Pre-Conference Workshops Are a Great Way to Start Your ANC Experience in Atlanta


SNA's 2017 Annual National Conference (ANC)

The following is the fourth in a series of news stories exploring the exciting opportunities and events at ANC.

Do the students and parents in your school district know how good your school meals are? Do you have the comfort and confidence to purchase produce at your farmer’s market to successfully drive a farm-to-table effort in your school program?

As a school foodservice professional, you are thinking about procurement, menu planning, nutrition, staffing, equipment, training and more. But if you want to increase your student participation and establish a strong positive image of your school food operations in the community, where students and parents can expect a certain level of food and service, then you might want to think about how to brand or better market your school food program.

And consequently, as you strive to serve more fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables to your kids, and are interested in knowing the farmer’s growing processes, delivery options and production, along with finding creative ways to prepare these items into culinary delights that your students will not leave on the plate, then you might want to think about how to develop and sustain your own farm-to-table program.

At SNA’s Annual National Conference (ANC), the Association is offering two intensive, hands-on Pre-Conference Workshops, “Secrets of #SchoolNutrition Branding: Beyond Meals on Trays” and “Boosting Your #SchoolNutrition Brand: Personalized Expert Coaching,” which will allow participants to explore all aspects of branding your school nutrition program. Speakers Dayle Hayes, MS, RD; Jeanne Reilly, DTR, SNS and Stefanie Dove, MS, RD, will explore the most effective strategies for developing a department mission, vision and core values, as well as creating logos, a tagline and media content without spending a fortune.

Meanwhile, at a Pre-Conference Workshop entitled “Farm to Table: A Fresh New Approach to School Meals,” Chef Sharon Schaefer SNS, will first take you on an excursion to one the best Atlanta area farmer’s markets, second you will experience an action-packed tour of two gardens at Decatur City (Ga.) Public Schools, followed by, and concluding with a hands-on kitchen demonstration where you will take all the wonderful produce you purchased at the market and make your own culinary creations.

So, what exactly is branding and how does it relate to school foodservice?

“Many people think that branding is just a logo, in fact, a brand is really much more,” explains Hayes, social media guru of School Meals That Rock. “Marketing experts know that a brand involves expectations, stories and relationships with a product or service. Taken all together, they influence a customer’s decision to choose a particular product or service. In school foodservice, a strong brand means that students and parents understand, trust and want to enjoy the meals you serve.”

Hayes says that after the morning 101 branding session, attendees will leave with a plan for establishing a brand for their district. They will have a set of steps that they can use immediately back in their districts, to begin working with their communication, public relations, and administrative staff.

“The second, afternoon 201 session,” which Hayes says will include guest mini-lectures by school nutrition leaders, “Is for people who have started to work on a brand but need some coaching on how to take their brand to the next level.”

Schaefer says, the Farm to Table workshop is really going to be an amazing opportunity for school nutrition professionals to connect farmer’s market ingredients with their menu writing process. The opportunities are a farmer’s market provides great information on your areas growing seasons and participants will learn how to integrate that knowledge into their school nutrition program.

Register for ANC 2017:

Sound interesting? Registration for ANC is now open. For a complete schedule, special event and general session information, hotel and travel information, visit or watch the ANC video.

“We are going to be looking at all the fresh and local products at that farmer’s market,” says Schaefer, a K-12 nutrition specialist in the Omaha, Nebraska area. “I will be there as a guide from the school chef’s perspective offering realistic serving ideas that will work on school menus.

“I will be there in person to walk them through all the produce that they are naturally attracted to, or hope to try for the first time, or need information about how to select items for peak freshness. And then, take that next step on how to you introduce yourself to farmers and make sure they can meet your district’s needs. Because purchasing fresh produce for your school is very different then throwing a couple of those items into a bag and bring it home for a meal with your family.”

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