SNA Conference Opens with Guest from The White House

SNA Conference Opens with Guest from The White House

Food & Drink

SNA Conference Opens with Guest from The White House

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The School Nutrition Association’s 64th Annual National Conference got off to a rousing Texas-style start Sunday as 5,000 school nutrition professionals descended on the Dallas Convention Center.

Speakers on opening day included a special guest from The White House.

Sam Kass, assistant White House chef and senior policy advisor, was one four chef panelists presenting SNA members with an overview of the Chefs Move to Schools program, championed by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Chef Kass talked about the daunting challenge to meet Mrs. Obama’s goal to end childhood obesity in the U.S. within a generation. He outlined what he called the four pillars of the Let’s Move! program: 1.) Access to healthy food, 2.) Physical Activity—60 minutes a day, 3.) Empowering parents, and 4.) The USDA Healthy School Challenge. Chef Kass exhibited real zeal for the program and took part in a lively Q&A with SNA attendees. He also spoke briefly at the general session.

Other chefs on the Chefs Move! panel were: Executive Chef Brad Trudeau from Dallas ISD, Chef Tony Geraci, Foodservice Director from Baltimore City Public Schools, and Chef Timothy Cipriano, Executive Director of Food Services for the New Haven, Conn., Public Schools.

table(left). | | | From left: Chefs Kass, Geraci, Trudeau, and Cipriano |

Chef Geraci talked about his experience with the Farm to School program. “It’s so important to connect kids to the origins of food,” Geraci said. In his Baltimore program he has students that plant, grow, harvest, cook and serve foods from a garden at Great Kids Farm. Chef Cipriano noted the reaction of kids when they see the chefs in their white jackets. Thanks to the cooking shows and chef competitions on TV, ‘We’re like rock stars to these kids,’ he said. The potential to positively influence students’ eating behavior shouldn’t be underestimated.

Dr. Ro rocks the house

Dr. Brock delivers keynote address

The opening day’s general session keynote speaker was nutrition and weight-loss guru Dr. Rovenia Brock, better known as ‘Dr. Ro,’ who characterized the gathered foodservice pros as the nation’s ‘first line of defense’ in the effort to end childhood obesity, which she called a ‘runaway train.’ Dr. Brock emphasized the need for parents to set an example with eating habits. ‘Children have to see to be,’ she said. Dr. Ro challenged SNA members to ‘step up their game,’ saying that ‘every day was a new opportunity for all of us to get it right.’

Other highlights of the general session included a number of national awards for extraordinary achievement announced by SNA President Dora Rivas.

  • National Louise Sublette Award of Excellence: Cheryl Dixon, Manager at the Horace Mann Primary School in Kittery Point, Maine.
  • The 2010 National Outstanding Director of the Year: Mary Kate Harrison, General Manager, Student Nutrition Services for the Hillsborough County School District in Florida.
  • Heart of the Program Award: Sandi Hansen, Food Service Associate at Northview Elmentary School in Eagan, Minn.
  • Individual Industry Member of the Year: Jill Conklin, Director of Sales Development, USA for Winston Industries.

President Rivas also presided over the state awards, which featured winners walking down down an elevated runway, escorted by cowboys in ten-gallon hats—except for the male winners who walked solo and some tossed their flower into the crowd.

Mrs. Obama set to do first live chat on Tuesday

Another of the day’s highlights for our Food Channel crew: we met up with Eddie Gehman Kohan, author of the popular White House food blog Obama Foodarama, who gave us the tip that Mrs. Obama will be kicking off a relaunch of the Let’s Move! website with her first-ever live chat on Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET. (See video clip below)

On Monday, the Exhibit Hall opens up with more than 340 companies showcasing healthy foods and energy-efficient equipment at 760 exhibit booths.

For more from SNA ANC, follow us on Twitter or at Facebook.

See Day 1 Photos on our Food Channel Facebook page here.

Click links below for other SNA Conference coverage
Video: Highlights from the School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Convention
Video: Ellie Krieger’s Advice for SNA
Video: White House Food Blogger Offers Tip on The First Lady
Top Ten Things Seen at the School Nutrition Association Conference
Nancy Rice Named 2010-2011 President of SNA
SNA Closing Session:Passing the Torch, Looking to the Future
Passion, Pride and Politics
Fairfax County Named School District of the Year
School Nutrition Pros Descend on Dallas Exhibit Hall
SNA Conference Opens with Guest from The White House
SNA Conference to Focus on Healthy Food Trends in School Meals
National Dairy Council promotes “Fuel Up and Play 60”
Michael Foods touts colorful promo, new products
Pinnacle Foods helps schools to juggle nutrition, fun, and flavor
Advance Food Company reduces sodium in its top-selling CN products

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