Record Attendance at #SNIC18


SNA’s School Nutrition Industry Conference (SNIC) officially kicked off today! A record number of enthusiastic school nutrition operators and industry partners (almost 700!) have come together in New Orleans to seek out the information and ideas (the “pieces”) that will help them “solve” their individual school nutrition puzzles—this year’s conference theme!

On Saturday, many conference-goers started their professional development a day early participating in one of four pre-conference sessions. These included a new pilot course to prepare for the School Nutrition Specialist (SNS) exam, as well as popular sessions focused on the School Nutrition Foundation’s Breakfast in the Classroom initiative, understanding GPOs and Co-Ops and Procurement and the Administrative Review.

The first item on today’s agenda, for SNIC early risers, was an invigorating sunrise stretch. An activity of SNA’s STEPS Wellness Program, made possible with support from Jennie-O Turkey store, the event saw attendees donning matching T-shirts while making exercise a priority…even while away from home!

The Opening General Session began with a rousing New Orleans jazz band pumping up the volume and Program Co-Advisors Chris Burkhardt (Cleveland Public Schools) and Jennifer Fortune Armstrong (Perdue Foods) joining SNA President Lynn Harvey embodying the Mardi Gras spirit. The energy continued to spark with a dynamic presentation from best-selling author and digital influencer, Erik Qualman. In his motivational session, Qualman showcased the power of what he’s coined “socialnomics,” offering takeaways and practical insights on how to harness the tremendous power of social media, which is driving change at an unprecedented rate.

SNA's 2018 School Nutrition Industry Conference (SNIC)

SNA's 2018 School Nutrition Industry Conference (SNIC)

Qualman explained how we’re operating in a world where word of mouth is on steroids—in fact, it’s “world of mouth.” From cautioning (or embracing) that what happens in Vegas (or anywhere) “stays on YouTube,” to urging a nimbleness that allows you capitalize on “momentum marketing” to setting some things on a “don’t do yet list,” he helped attendees to begin considering what will be your ultimate digital legacy?

A networking lunch, “No One Eats Alone,” will introduce attendees to an important initiative to create inclusive cafeterias and address social isolation in middle school across the country. Created and organized by students, the initiative addresses how cafeterias can be the place where kids feel included, valued and accepted by their peers. For more information about No One Eats Alone, visit

Throughout the day, operators and industry representatives will be attending sessions specifically tailored to help them find innovative solutions to their school nutrition challenges. Additionally, a General Session in the afternoon, “Partners for Progress” will contribute significant portions of the bigger picture with presentations by SNA allies at the American Commodity Distribution Community and the Institute of Child Nutrition.

Tonight, the stars will shine at the Foodservice Achievement Management Excellence (FAME) Awards reception and dinner when conference-goers honor outstanding leaders in the school nutrition profession. It’s certain to be an inspirational evening and a great opportunity for attendees to celebrate together the accomplishments of the industry’s best.

Tomorrow’s agenda will delve deep into procurement—a deep-dive focus of this year’s educational programing—and debut a number of new learning formats: faster paced 30-minute Ideas@Work sessions, and attendee-driven #OpenSpace discussions through the new conference App., as well as more opportunities for networking.

Check back here on Wednesday for a full wrap-up of #SNIC18. And save the date for next year’s conference in Austin, Texas: January 13-15, 2019.


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