ANC 2017 Blasts Off with Astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly, Award Winners and a Jam-Packed Exhibit Hall


Thousands of energized school nutrition professionals from across the nation joined together in “HOTlanta” for hot topics and cool connections at SNA’s 71st Annual National Conference (ANC).

SNA's 2017 Annual National Conference (ANC)

Approximately 7,100 members and participants have arrived in Georgia’s capital early Saturday, when pre-conference education sessions began, including two off-site sessions. “Farm to Table: A Fresh New Approach to School Meals” took attendees to a nearby Farmer’s Market to look at one of the hottest food trends—farm to table. While “Planning Menus with a Chef’s Edge” brought registrants to nearby Gwinnett County to visit with school nutrition staff and chefs where they learned effective culinary techniques.

Sunday afternoon marked the official start of the event with the Opening General Session. After a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem by the Roswell High School Chamber Chorus, the Association’s Board of Directors, state presidents, state agency directors and past presidents and the ANC 2017 Planning Committee members were introduced to attendees. Additionally, SNA Board President Becky Domokos-Bays, PhD, RD, SNS, acknowledged the 2016-17 President’s Award of Excellence recipients: Laura Fails, School Nutrition Association of Kansas; Gary Childress, SNS, Maryland School Nutrition Association; and Lori Shofroth, Indiana School Nutrition Association.

Domokos-Bays thanked this year’s industry sponsors whose support helps make ANC an exciting and rich event, including Jennie-O Turkey Store, for their sponsorship of the Opening General Session and today’s STEPS Challenge.

Additionally, Domokos-Bays and SNA’s CEO Patricia Montague, CAE, welcomed attendees and shared a video (see below) that provided a brief recap of just some of the Association’s highlights and milestones the past year.

SNA's 2017 Annual National Conference (ANC)

Domokos-Bays and Carol Gnan from Jennie-O Turkey Store introduced the Opening General Session’s keynote speakers, highly decorated NASA astronauts and retired U.S. Navy captains (and identical twins!), Mark and Scott Kelly. The Kelly brothers treated registrants to an out of this world presentation with amazing tales of their space adventures, as well as their candid perspectives on the individual and shared experiences that have shaped their views on teamwork and leadership. With much playful teasing of one another, the brothers credited their parents with role modeling the value of setting goals, persistence and teamwork. “How good you are at the beginning of any endeavor is not an indicator of how good you will be,” they noted. Many conference attendees were also thrilled to meet them in person afterwards at a special “Meet & Greet” book signing and an unexpected appearance at the New Connections Reception that closed the day’s events.

SNA's 2017 Annual National Conference (ANC)

Energy and excitement are the words for the day when several hundred attendees participated in this morning’s STEPS Challenge Wellness Event—a sunrise stretch! Later today, the ANC Exhibit Hall—always a top highlight--opened for business! This year there are more than 900 exhibit booths—a record number for ANC! Plus, it boasts some note-worthy special events, such as the new Spark Sessions (brief 25 minute targeted training sessions), Culinary Demonstrations and the Wellness Village. Once the doors opened, the excitement level was at an all-time high as attendees checked out the latest food and beverage items on the market, plus supply, equipment and service solutions, software/hardware technology and nutrition education resources. And everyone enjoyed sampling a wide variety of foods and beverages on display, including gluten-free selections, whole-grain products, low-fat and low-sodium items, fruits and vegetables, nutritious snacks and much more.

Attendees came prepared to take advantage of hot topics and cool connections at over 120+ education sessions over the course of the conference. Sunday’s education schedule included can’t-miss sessions such as “Get the Facts on Food Allergies,” “Procurement and the Administrative Review,” and “Small Districts Doing Big Things.” Monday’s buzz was all about which surprise “Pop-Up” sessions, featuring the most in-demand topics and speakers, SNA would be adding to today’s education line-up.

Join in on the social media conference-related conversations happening now on SNA’s Facebook page and @SchoolLunch on Twitter—as well as in the conference mobile app, ANC on the Go. Don’t forget to add hashtag #ANC17 to your own tweets to have your tweet show up in the conference Twitter stream.

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