ANC Program Co-Chairs Share Tips on How You Can Get the Most Out of ANC


SNA's 2017 Annual National Conference (ANC)

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

Like Napoleon Bonaparte or any great military general, ANC 2017 Program Chair Jeremy West CDM, SNS likes to deploy the foodservice employees from his district and use what he calls a “divide and conquer” strategy to get the most of SNA’s Annual National Conference (ANC).

“If I am going with my whole team, I don’t want all of us going to the same Educations Sessions or Pre-Conference Workshops,” says West, who is director of Operations, Food and Nutrition Services at JEFFCO Public Schools in Golden, Colorado. “I want them to go to different sessions and workshops so that we can take all of the knowledge back and share that with each other. We call that divide and conquer ANC!”

“If you are going to ANC, think outside of the box,” suggests Program Co-Chair Vanessa Hayes, SNS, Child Nutrition director at Tift County, Georgia, “Don’t just attend Pre-Conference Workshops or Educational Sessions that only address your immediate challenges, but look at something that might be really different or new to you, such as learning about the Farm to School Program, getting the facts about allergies or understanding clean labels. Also, try not to stay on the same learning track the whole conference, mix it up a bit.”

With all the great Educational Sessions, Pre-Conference Workshops, General Sessions, Exhibit Hall, special events and more, figuring how to take in everything and see Atlanta too, can be a real challenge. West, a veteran of the past 10 ANCs, thinks a good place to start is by reading all the ANC online conference materials and then, plan ahead.

“I remember my first conference in Philadelphia [2008] and feeling quite overwhelmed by the whole process,” recalled West, who is Colorado School Nutrition 2016-17 Association President. “Now, as soon as I get my conference program, I like to load all the things I want to attend into my personal calendar ahead of the event because it helps me get organized. And, take some time when you get to the convention center to orient yourself to the property to make sure you know how to get where you are going.

“Plus, if you are going for the first-time, make a point to go to the First Timers Session [Sunday July 9, 7:30 am-8:30 am] where you will meet Vanessa, myself and a number of others, who will be there to guide you through ANC, help you to get the lay of the land and answer any questions you may have.”

For many attendees, networking and meeting up with old friends is certainly one of the highlights of going to ANC. Hayes proposes you make a point to separate from your school district or state group (from time-to-time) to network with others from around the nation.

“Many of us arrive at ANC and mostly socialize with people from our home state or school district,” said Hayes, who has attended the past 9 ANCs. “I would suggest hanging out with somebody else instead. Split up and do something with people outside of your group that you came with.

“Because when you are willing to do that, you inevitably meet people from across the country. who are doing what you are doing. You listen to the way that they do things and it makes you think differently about your job. It really makes you appreciate who you are in this industry!”

While in downtown Atlanta, West says make sure you take advantage of the shuttle buses running between the designated ANC convention hotels and the Georgia World Congress Center, starting Saturday July 8.

“As with recent past ANC’s, the shuttles run like clockwork and are such a great help,” notes West. “After a long day, relax and let somebody else do the driving.

“Atlanta is such a great place to have a wonderful culinary experience, so I think there is going to be something for everyone to enjoy. And with that in mind, you might want to consider to going to a Night Out at Ponce City Market [Tuesday July 11, 6 pm-10 pm]. I know I am looking forward to it.”

Register for ANC 2017:

Sound interesting? The Regular Rate registration deadline has been extended to Friday, June 16! For a complete schedule, special event and general session information, hotel and travel information, Exhibit Hall information and more, visit or watch the ANC video.

But most importantly, West and Hayes say, use the ANC on the Go app. [Learn how to "Go Mobile at ANC" by registering for the June 20 webinar.]

“I used the app the last two years,” stressed West. “When you are in the middle of things on the show floor and forget where you go next, or maybe you are out getting lunch and you are running a little late, your time can get away from you. So, having that information on my [personal] calendar and on the app helps remind me of where I need to be.”

“And don’t forget,” added Hayes, “The app is where you can rate the sessions you attend and that is very helpful following ANC to know what sessions were good and what were not as good when SNA schedules Education Sessions and Pre-Conference Workshops for ANC 2018 in Las Vegas.”

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