Nothing Quite Like Bringing Employees to ANC


SNA's 2017 Annual National Conference (ANC)

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

Back in 2010, the Health, Hunger-Free Kids Act changed the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale School District 622 in one positive way that they could not have ever possibly imaged.

Because of the new required guidelines and programs under the Act, Paula Pohlkamp, supervisor of the Minnesota-based school district, thought this was the “perfect opportunity” to bring interested members of her Menu Committee to attend ANC in Denver, Colorado. The experience for those individuals was so successful and “advantageous,” and the information brought back so paramount to the district, Pohlkamp regularly brings about 10 employees of her 72-person staff every year.

“We feel that is important to have our employees attend,” said Pohlkamp. “They not only learn and obtain valuable education from the sessions, workshops and Exhibit Hall, but they also become a resource for useful information that they can share with other employees when they come back home.

“I think that is part of just embracing our program and feeling really good about what they do in their jobs. Because, the more that they know, the better that they feel; the better that they feel, the better job that they do. It is very rare that you have someone say, ‘I am not going again.’ Staff realizes how important their job is by attending ANC.”

As a strong proponent of the opportunities and resources available at SNA’s Annual National Conference (ANC), Michelle Coker, MA, RD, LD, SNS, director of Child Nutrition at Fayette County Public Schools in Lexington, Kentucky, also sees great benefits to bring staff. With 61 school sites and a staff of over 400, Coker supervises the second largest school district in the state and makes sure every year, that she brings at least five-to seven employees with her.

Reasons Why You Should Bring Your Staff to ANC

  1. Invest in your team’s potential
  2. Create bonding experiences within staff
  3. Network with peers
  4. Develops leadership
  5. Accelerate your staff’s productivity and growth
  6. Encounter new vendors and suppliers together
  7. Learn new ideas together
  8. Helps prepare for school year ahead
  9. Come back with enthusiasm and a positive attitude towards our line of work!
  10. Pride in what we do!

“The thing that excites me,” explains Coker. “Is they all bring back new ideas, new products, new skills and new information that we start incorporating into our program almost right after ANC ends. Because if only I get to go, it will not do justice to our program.

“It is not about just me going and having fun – which I do – it is about what can we do to make our program better by raising the bar, and moving forward to provide a healthy nutritious meal for our students. There are just so many great things going on at ANC and it is just makes sense to have a fresh set of eyes and look at things differently.”

While usually staying in the same hotel at ANC as their staff, Pohlkamp and Coker will review with them what they have experienced each day over breakfast or a cup of coffee in the evening. Upon returning from home, they go into more formal discussions to dissect and apply the knowledge they have gained.

“I truly love the time that I spend with my staff during conference,” says Pohlkamp. “It is a commitment on their behalf to go and that is why I think as a district we try to do whatever we can to get the funds so staff can go. Having them attend ANC is a win-win experience for both our program and themselves.”

Register for ANC 2017:

Sound interesting? The Early Bird registration deadline is May 12! For a complete schedule, special event and general session information, hotel and travel information, visit or watch the ANC video.

Given the quality of ANC and quantity of educational sessions and workshops, and vendors at the Exhibit Hall, both Pohlkamp or Coker agree that their employees would be hard-pressed not to learn something. Therefore, neither has any problem with staff members saying they do not want to attend.

Concludes Coker, “My staff’s attitude is this: if we don’t have the funding and they can’t go, they would definitely be really disappointed.”

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