Viva Las Vegas - Viva ANC

Inspiring Speakers at ANC 2009 – Part 2

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Can you believe it? ANC is just around the corner and soon we’ll be in Las Vegas! I’m sure my life will never be the same after this summer’s conference, not only because ANC is where I learn, network, share and bring back ideas to my district…but also because I will be installed as your 2009-2010 SNA President.

That’s one reason I’ll definitely be paying especially close attention to our general session speakers. I’m sure I’ll need lots of inspiration as I begin my term…and I hope these keynote speakers will inspire you too as you prepare for a new school year. It really is a dynamic group: a musician, a writer, an artist and a philanthropist. I’m especially looking forward to Wednesday and Thursday’s speakers, Erik Wahl and Blake Mycoskie.

Third General Session
Erik Wahl is a recognized artist and speaker, and founder of a consulting firm that specializes in helping organizations implement breakthrough thinking to achieve extraordinary results. Discover how you can sharpen your own creative skills and identify a personal style for inspiring yourself, and others.

Closing General Session
Blake Mycoskie founded TOMS: Shoes for a Better Tomorrow on a simple premise: for every pair purchased, TOMS will give an additional pair of shoes to a child in need. Since the first Shoe Drop, TOMS has given over 70,000 pairs of shoes to children in need around the world.

There’s never been a year where the need for fresh ideas to address the challenges of our districts was ever more important. And with so much to learn, see and do, there’s never been a better return for our dollar either. I'm ready to go to Las Vegas......are you?

Dora Rivas
SNA Vice President

Inspiring Speakers at ANC 2009

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Hello from Jody Houston, your ANC Program Co-Chair!

It's critical, especially in the school nutrition profession, that when you get knocked down, you get right back up again. The first two ANC general session speakers, Robin Crow and Jeannette Walls, are two excellent examples of such persistence. They each experienced their own share of setbacks on their way to success and I’m sure they’ll offer plenty of insights for us as we prepare for a new school year full of challenges and opportunities.

Robin Crow (Opening General Session)
I have long appreciated the music of Neil Diamond, Faith Hill, The Judds, and more recently, Taylor Swift. But I was surprised to learn that each of these artists recorded their beautiful music in a studio built from the ground up by Robin Crow. Although Robin started off as a solo guitarist and national recording artist, he found himself with a family to support, penniless and without a job at the age of 40. Somehow he mustered the drive and ambition to build a studio that has set the gold standard for excellence in the recording industry.

Jeannette Walls (Second General Session)
I read Jeannette’s book as I traveled through Virginia a couple of summers ago, and was struck by the different lives that we’ve led. Having grown up middle class, I wasn’t prepared to read about Jeannette’s life of abject poverty. Her home could barely stand and food was sometimes a luxury, but it was a story I just couldn’t put down. Thank goodness it had a happy ending for Jeannette, who faced her fears and made her life a success.

As with Robin and Jeannette, we all most endure our own share of hardships….but I believe these hardships can inspire us to be better and help us excel at what we do. That’s why I can’t wait for ANC 2009, because I always leave ready to face obstacles at home and at work. I wonder what I’ll be inspired to overcome this year?! What obstacles do you hope to overcome?

Jody Houston
ANC Steering Committee Co-Chair

ANC 2009 Is Right Around the Corner!

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If you haven’t yet registered for ANC 2009, this is your opportunity to take advantage of an extended Regular Rate registration deadline. SNA will now accept Regular Rate registrations until June 1, 2009, a savings to you of $50. But hurry—after June 1st, all registrations received will be charged at the Onsite Rate. To register today, visit the ANC section of

If you still need a reason to make your way to Las Vegas for ANC 2009, here are just five ways in which you’ll be a WINNER in Vegas:

  • CREATE your own personal itinerary by choosing more than 60 education sessions.
  • SEE new products firsthand, spot new trends and check out the latest and greatest products and services available to the school market.
  • HEAR dynamic presentations from a stellar cast of keynote speakers and enjoy a concert by one of the greatest acts in music history.
  • FIND solutions to your thorniest problems and discover new skills to help you give a new look to school meals.
  • NETWORK with thousands of your peers from across the country.

We hope to see you this summer, so don’t forget to register!



Great Housing News!

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Great news from the Official SNA Housing Bureau for ANC 2009! You may have noticed that rates have recently dropped at all official SNA Hotels: TheHotel at Mandalay Bay, Mandalay Bay, and Luxor. If you haven’t made your reservation just yet, you may do so via online at; or toll-free at 888.351.8969 to take advantage of great rates – rooms are available at Luxor as low as $59 per night!

Have you found any great travel deals, or other travel tips to share?

Year After Year, The Best Thinking in School Nutrition

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Year after year, SNA’s annual conferences provide attendees with valuable learning and networking opportunities, so it’s no surprise that ANC draws a large number of repeat attendees eager to take home the best thinking in school nutrition.

In their own words, two frequent ANC attendees share what keeps them coming back to SNA’s biggest conference of the year. “I have learned many things from the [educational] programs, but the networking is phenomenal,” says Teal Carpenter, director of food services for Gloversville City (N.Y.) School District.

Julie Tuttle, SNS, school nutrition director for Montgomery County (Ky.) School District, agrees. “I have met so many people across the United States that I look forward to seeing each year,” she says of the networking. Also, she notes, “Seeing the new ideas and food products in the Exhibit Hall allows us to be proactive, so we know what’s out there.”

Both of these repeat attendees also cite the importance of attending ANC to stay on top of your game. “I feel good when, three months down the road, I hear about something that was discussed in a session,” Tuttle explains. “I like having that communication and feeling like I’m on top of things.”

On top of that, Carpenter points out another vital reason to attend ANC. “Going to ANC is like recharging your battery,” she summarizes. “It’s fun, but you still learn, you meet great people and then you’re glad to be back in your own corner of the world.”

To experience firsthand the essential education, networking and innovative ideas and products to be found at ANC Las Vegas, be sure to register at

If you’re a repeat attendee, what excites you about ANC Las Vegas? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Valuable Opportunities Await ANC First-Timers

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Never been to ANC and considering whether to make this year your first? ANC Las Vegas promises to offer educational value and opportunities of all kinds to all attendees, but those attending for the first time are sure to be especially pleased with their conference experience.

From informative sessions in tracks such as financial management/operations, professional skill building and USDA/commodities, to networking with contacts new and old, to checking out the latest new products and ideas in the Exhibit Hall, ANC Las Vegas will have something for everyone.

One first-time attendee, Margaret Burrell, school nutrition director for Anderson County (Tenn). School District, is most looking forward to this year’s education sessions and the valuable networking opportunities that await her. Further, she can vouch for Las Vegas as a great conference location. “I really like Las Vegas….I have been several times,” Burrell says. “Mandalay Bay [the site of ANC Las Vegas] is nice also.”

Join Burrell and more than 500 other first-time attendees at this year’s ANC for four learning-packed and networking-filled days. At the end of your experience, you can be assured you’ll be taking home the best thinking in school nutrition! Visit to learn how to register.

If you’re a first-time attendee, what are you looking forward to about ANC Las Vegas?

ANC: A Shared Experience—Part II

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It’s Kelly Renard again, and earlier this week, I shared the epiphany I had when I realized that I could never recreate the experience of ANC with staff back home. They had to be a part of it themselves. And this epiphany hit me at a terrific time: the upcoming ANC was going to be held in our home state of Pennsylvania.

Realizing how important it was that staff experience ANC firsthand, I began laying the groundwork. I talked about it—a lot. I told my staff about the educational sessions, the show floor, the blow-you-away keynote presentations, the parties and the food. I talked non-stop about the experience and how much fun it was.

From many of my team members, the response I received was a look as though I had dyed my hair lime green. I persevered. Ten months before ANC, I told them to mark their calendars; it was plenty of time to arrange schedules, plan for care of kids and prep the spouse for a few days’ absence. I rode the train myself, mapping out exactly what would be involved for those who had never traveled outside of the county.

Seven months in advance of ANC was the deadline for staff to let me know who was interested in going. There was not one taker—just a single “maybe.” This was so frustrating to me! I knew that it was largely because they just didn’t know what they were missing—but I wasn’t going to let them use that as an excuse. I made ANC attendance mandatory.

I assigned roommates, scheduled trains, made itineraries, arranged for tickets to events and created a packing list. In response, I got a few sighs of relief, possibly because I had made the decision and relieved any “guilty” feelings related to causing family inconveniences. But I also got grumbles, and I knew that some were angry with my action.

The # 1 question: “Are we being paid?” Yes—I budgeted to pay them for all the educational time, but not for parties or time spent sleeping! I saw this as simply the next step in a training program I had started earlier, in which I took staff offsite for a full day of paid training. Obviously, a multi-day trip to ANC was more expensive, but it was an investment in the business of my school nutrition operation that I felt was worth it. I thought the “bonding” time away from the school was important. And they needed to learn some lessons that I couldn’t teach:

  • It’s a big world out there—and like it or not, they are part of it. They ‘midisaswell’ see some of it.
  • They are not alone. School nutrition professionals in districts all over this country have similar problems with parents, kids, foods, personnel, etc… Misery loves company—and I thought they could use some healing in ANC’s fertile group therapy.
  • They are doing a GREAT job! By going to sessions, hearing about practices that are very familiar to them and finding out that others are just learning these—well, that gives them a little boost. When a question is raised in the crowd, they can offer a solution. The trip to ANC would be a unique confidence builder that I simply couldn’t replicate at home. 

Sharing ANC together was a huge investment in my team—it was something I couldn’t shy away from, so I made it work. I made the case to my boss, who has been very supportive of me and my association work. We had a go.

Well, if you have been to any ANC, then you will know that my bringing my team to ANC in Philadelphia was a complete success! My staff had a fantastic time and finally understood what I have been trying to explain and recreate to them about my experiences.

How about you? Have you always flown “solo” at ANC? Thinking about what it might entail to bring key staffers—or your whole team—along with you? While it’s not too late to register for ANC in Las Vegas at the end of June, you probably should be looking ahead to next year’s ANC in Dallas (July 11-14, 2010) or the 2011 ANC in Opryland, Nashville (July 9-13, 2011).

One great strategy for bringing your team to ANC is to establish a “scholarship fund” and conduct fundraisers to support it. That way, staff members still have the opportunity, even if you cannot budget for it. We use this scholarship fund for a variety of different training events and opportunities. Be sure your team is active in planning.

I am also taking advantage of SNA’s new School District Owned Membership option. I want everyone on my team to see the value that I place in their abilities. Sure, there will always be a bad, “brown” apple in one’s employee basket of nice red, green and yellow ones. But going through a process like the steps required to bring everyone to ANC helps to identify the real vibrant stars on your team who are worth your professional development energies!


ANC: A Shared Experience—Part I

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Hi! My name is Kelly Renard, and I am president of the School Nutrition Association of Pennsylvania (SNAPA). I am a director who loves what the association—and its national Annual National Conference (ANC)—provides for me personally: the education, networking and recognition. For years, I have come home from wonderful ANC locations around the country invigorated with a renewed energy and enthusiasm and my “backpack” overflowing with new product ideas, menu swaps, teaching tools and tricks of the trade. I’ve brought home great plans for how to conduct my next in-service and ideas to kick off a new promotion. It’s why I go back, year after year.

Sometimes, when I come home with new ideas, my 10 managers look at me like I’m off my rocker. But I can usually get at least a few to embrace something new that I’ve learned at the conference. For example, I recall conducting an exercise where I asked each team member to use crayons to draw a picture of a fish. I then explained that we all did exactly what was asked: We drew pictures of fish. But I noted how each of our drawings looked extremely different! This led to a discussion of how each of us is different in how we behave, our perceptions and how we respond to directives, personnel and life in general. I explained how we need to learn to appreciate our differences and use our strengths to make our team run like a well oiled machine and that this is how we create synergy in our business to make it thrive, etc., etc., etc…

Lesson learned, training over, ANC idea passed along. It was a success…sort of. Somehow, though, I felt like I missed the mark, just slightly. This was a common post-ANC result, though. Why did I feel dissatisfied? Was it the perfectionist in me needing everything to be just right and have the message fully received, embraced and, more importantly, acted upon? (Yeah, like THAT happens every time...)

Finally, after years of this “self-training” of my staff, where I alone carried the torch of cheerleader, rule enforcer, policy maker and therapist, it dawned on me that was missing for my staff was the experience of learning the material first hand. The experience of seeing the General Session speakers on the stage with the lights and music; all the crowds of other people “just like me”; the applause; the laughing; the after-conference parties and dinners; the leadership of our national association; the visit to another world far beyond home.

Even though I tried to bring ANC home to my staff, I couldn’t really recreate the experience for them. I couldn’t give them the rejuvenation you feel after a few days away, totally submerged in a learning experience! I couldn’t become the professional speaker who made you feel as if you are just unstoppable. I couldn’t capture that incredible education session where ideas are flying fast and furious. They couldn’t experience the size and scope of the Exhibit Hall or the actual thrill of seeing a new product and realizing it’s going to be BIG with your kids. I couldn’t convey just how it feels when you realize that your mind is running much faster than your feet can carry you. It morphs into an excitement that you can’t wait to take home and share with someone, anyone—an unsuspecting spouse, the cat, the kids, your staff—anyone who will listen!

All of THAT is what was missing when I tried to bring ANC to my staff—what I needed to do was bring THEM to the conference. This epiphany was something of a “perfect storm” for me, because it came in the early stages of planning SNAPA’s role in last year’s ANC in Philadelphia. I realized that taking my staff with me to ANC—and letting them experience it for themselves—WAS possible.

Visit this blog later this week, and I’ll share more about how I went about bringing my staff to ANC—and why it was such a great success!


Make the most out of the Exhibit Hall!

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Hi, my name is Pat McCoy and I am the industry representative to the Board of Directors and an employee of The Schwan Food Company. I wanted to take this opportunity to invite everyone to this year’s ANC in Las Vegas!

The Exhibit Hall is a great place to see old friends and find new products that will jump start your sales next fall. I would encourage all school nutrition professionals to come to the show with a list of specific things that will help you achieve your goals and objectives for the year and then collaborate with your industry partners to find solutions to these needs. If you can come away with just a few key ideas that you can implement, it quickly will payback the cost of the entire conference. Perhaps you may even what to share some of your ideas/needs on this blog so your industry partners can prepare in advance to meet these needs.

New industry members working the exhibits will need to come with their “A” game and be well versed on their products. School nutrition professionals will be asking a lot of questions about nutrition, pricing, distribution, commodities and applications for lunch and breakfast programs. To make good use of the show hours, it’s important that you to convey this information in an efficient and effective manner. When the show hours are over, be sure to participate in the many informative education sessions that are available. The more up to date you are on the key issues of the day, the better resource you can be to your customers in the future.

Last but not least, take full advantage of the great people that are so passionately involved in this business. Enjoy the exciting nightlife and network with the many other professionals participating in the conference. Many will become your friends for life!

I look forward to seeing you all in Vegas!
Pat McCoy
SNA Industry Representative


ANC - More Important than Ever

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SNA leaders speak out about the importance of attending ANC in Vegas, June 29-July 3.

During these economically troubled times, it is more important than ever to be prepared to help school districts plan, budget and face the challenges of today. ANC offers the education sessions, training and the ability to network with peers who experience the day to day demands all programs encounter. Watch now to learn why these SNA leaders believe ANC is more important than ever:

What information do you hope to learn from attending ANC in Vegas?

Video 3
Dora Rivas, SNS
SNA President-elect

View Videos 1 & 2 of Nancy Rice and Shirley Watkins speaking out about the importance of attending ANC in Vegas, June 29 - July 3.

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