CNIC is just a few weeks away, and last year’s conference chairs—and repeat attendees—share what they’re looking forward to in January in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Helen Phillips, SNS, SNA vice president and senior director of child nutrition services for Norfolk (Va.) Public Schools, explains that she enjoys the smaller, more intimate atmosphere of CNIC as compared to SNA’s larger conferences. “I know I will always gain some new knowledge or great idea. It's great to have the opportunity to work more closely with other operators and industry from across the country,” she adds.
Phillips is looking forward to hearing Ann Cooper, nutrition services director for Boulder Valley (Colo.) School District and founder of the Food Family Farming Foundation's Lunch Box Project, present her keynote address at the Jan. 11 general session. “It will be interesting to see how she faces the people she has so harshly criticized,” Phillips states.
In addition to seeing colleagues from across the country that she doesn’t seen often, Director of Food and Nutrition for Oak Park and River Forest (Ill.) High School Micheline Piekarski, SNS, says that she always anticipates CNIC’s educational content, “which really pertains to the director level.” This year, Piekarski is looking forward to seeing all of the new items in the marketplace displayed at once, rather than several at a time, as in previous years. She indicates that she’s also glad to have the opportunity to participate in the planned volunteer project to assemble baskets to benefit Wolfson Children's Hospital in Jacksonville, Fla.
What advice do these veteran attendees have for first-time CNIC attendees? “Come prepared to learn a lot and leave with a greater appreciation of the work you do,” Phillips shares. Offers Piekarski, “The first-timers session (to be held on Jan. 10) is a valuable source of information.” She also recommends the pre-conference session designed for major city directors, district directors and supervisors. Attendees will learn about the work of the Council of the Great City Schools and what the Council looks for when conducting reviews of district programs, including foodservice operations.
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