School Nutrition Puzzles Were Solved at #SNIC18


kaplan-mobraySNA’s 2018 School Nutrition Industry Conference (SNIC) officially wrapped up yesterday in New Orleans. This year saw a record number of school nutrition professionals, almost 700 strong, joining forces to find the answers to their school nutrition puzzles. Read “Record Attendance at #SNIC18” for details about the conference kick off.

Throughout SNIC, much of the educational agenda included a focus on procurement. There were presentations from experts and insights from panelists. From “Procurement Ethics—What Should You Do?” and “Top 10 Steps to Managing the Procurement Process (and Preventing a Big Protest!)” to the interactive table discussions in the “Putting the Pieces Together: Procurement Action Steps,” there was something for everyone all along the K-12 school nutrition supply chain.

In addition, Innovative Solution Sessions offered opportunities for operators and industry members to connect and discuss new products and initiatives introduced and/or supported by vendors in K-12. New educational formats were also a hit. Among these were the SNA/SNF series of short 30-minute Ideas@Work sessions, such as “Vending Victories: A Unique Way to Offer Reimbursable Meals” and “School Nutrition Playbook—Filling the Gap with School Meals.” Additionally, the attendee-driven #OpenSpace discussions, facilitated through the new conference app, were well received. SNA members should look for both of these formats to make a return at SNA’s Annual National Conference this summer in Las Vegas.

The conference wrapped-up on Tuesday with a Closing General Session that brought this year’s conference theme, “Solving Your School Nutrition Puzzle” full circle. Keynote speaker Kaplan Mobray asked “Is Leadership Excellence the Missing Piece in Your Team’s Success?” Mobray’s high-energy presentation featured numerous exercises encouraging attendees to reflect on their leadership qualities—and determine if they are engaging their teams. Leaders share the journey, he explained. When it comes to their team members, they should know something about the “Health, Wealth, Family and Dreams” of each—and they should know yours. Other key leadership qualities included sharing guiding principles, having passion (but “never let your passion as a leader get in front of your purpose when making decisions”) and thinking about your successor (“bad leaders need to be needed; great leaders need to be succeeded”).

When all was said and done, “It’s not about what happens in this room—but what happens when you leave and return home,” Mobray noted. He endeared himself with conference-goers when he closed with an expression of gratitude “for what you do every single day to safely provide for my daughter and kids all across this great land so they can be more healthy. Kids that get a good meal do better in school and in life.”

Once again, #SNIC18 proved to be a wonderful way for operators and industry partners to start the new year—with the “pieces,” purpose, passion and vision to put your innovative solutions to work. And while the conference may be over, you can keep the conversation going in your school districts, organizations and on social media (don’t forget to use #SNIC18). Mark your calendar now and save January 13-15, 2019 for #SNIC19 in Austin, Texas.

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