The Ultimate Guide to ANC 2018

It’s our favorite time of year at Meals Plus! The School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference 2018 is just around the corner. From July 9-12 industry professionals from all over the country will head to the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas for four days of sharing bright ideas, learning best practices, and illuminating a bold vision for K12 school food service! Whether it’s your first time, or you’re a dedicated annual attendee, we have everything you need to know to get ready.

Getting Started

First thing’s first—the Opening Session. This year, co-anchor of CBS This Morning, Gayle King will be starting things off! She will be bringing refreshing authenticity along with her dogged persistence to her assignments. After her keynote speech, she will be signing copies of her book, Note to Self: Inspiring Words from Inspiring People. She isn’t the only star studded speaker. On Thursday Chef Jeff Henderson will be sharing his journey from the streets to the stove, along with some real-life strategies to help you achieve your dreams. After his session, he will also be signing copies of his books. Check out SNA’s website for more information on the general sessions.

Gaining Bright Ideas

Whether you’re looking to develop new skills or enhance existing knowledge, you can customize a schedule of educational sessions just for your needs! There will be a Culinary Skills Lab, sessions on promoting your program, and information on navigating the procurement puzzle. You can view all education session here as well as download a tracking tool that provides an easy way to keep up with your training hours during the conference.

Exploring the Exhibit Hall

The most exciting part of ANC for us at Meals Plus is the Exhibit Hall! This year there will be 880 booths showcasing culinary trends in food, beverage, supply, equipment, and service solutions. No matter what you’re looking for to grow your program, you can find it in the miles of aisles! While you’re there, be sure to stop to learn about how we can help turn your cafeteria into the Smartest Lunchroom. For digital menu solutions, visit School Nutrition and Fitness at book #1659. To learn more about our integrated cafeteria management solutions visit Meals Plus at booth #1065! Whether you’re a customer or not, if you are looking for new ways to improve your program, we’d love to chat with you!

Making Connections through Special Events

The fun doesn’t stop once you leave the educational sessions or the exhibit hall. There are even more events that offer a little something for everyone! If you’re a first-time attendee, you should definitely go to the First-Timers Session to guide you in the right direction before you get started. This year is all about networking, so be sure to attend the New Connections Reception on Monday. Once you’ve gained all of these new ideas and connections, celebrate at the closing event, Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil, an electrifying fusion of acrobatics and dance in honor of the King of Pop. Learn more about all of the special events offered at ANC here.

Take on ANC from your Smartphone!

ANC just went mobile! You can download SNA’s 2018 ANC mobile app to stay connected while on site. You can build your own agenda, evaluate education sessions, navigate the conference center, message other attendees and join discussion groups, and receive notifications on schedule changes and program alerts. The app can be downloaded on iTunes or Google Play.

Experiencing Las Vegas Outside of the Conference Doors

Even though our first priority at ANC is to learn and network, it’s also an exciting opportunity to experience Sin City! Check out this list for some of the Best Things to Do in Las Vegas. You may also want to check out SNA’s list of inexpensive suggestions for exploring Vegas.

We are so excited to see you in Vegas! We hope you gain valuable information to step up your lunch program. Don’t forget to stop by booth #1065 to visit Meals Plus and booth #1659 to visit School Nutrition and Fitness in the exhibit hall July 10-12. Learn more information about ANC 2018 here.

Happy National Nutrition Month!

As a part of the nutrition community, Meals Plus wants to highlight all of the available resources; to help make National Nutrition Month a success!

The Meals Plus Customer Cookbook, editions, 2015, 2016 and 2017, are filled with the most popular recipes from school cafeterias across the country in an effort to help increase participation in the lunchroom, while still meeting USDA meal pattern regulations.

Now that you have new healthy recipes, we want to help you promote them with marketing strategies to be more effective within your school meal program:

The Five P’s of Promoting Your School Meal Program examines Product, Placement, Promotion, Price, and People. While 101 Ways to Increase Participation lays out 101 simple participation techniques provided by the Meals Plus family of school districts and their staff.

For more free resources visit our whitepaper library






Eggs-cuse My French Toast, but It’s National School Breakfast Week!

This week is National School Breakfast Week!

This Homemade French Toast is one of the breakfast recipes from the 2016 Meals Plus Child Nutrition Cookbook, which you can download here. The cookbook includes recipes from Meals Plus Customers and school breakfast recipes using USDA foods. Its hard to beat a recipe this good!

Homemade French Toast

Toast2Yields: 100
Serving Size: 1 piece
Food Group Components: 1 oz. eq. meat/meat alternative, 1 oz. eq. wgr grain
Recipe Type: Entree
Allergens: Milk, Wheat


5 lb. + 9 oz. – pasteurized whole eggs, frozen (USDA Material #100045)
1 c. – sugar, granulated
1/2 c. – cinnamon, ground
1/2 c. – vanilla extract
3 qt. + 3 c. – milk, low fat, 1%
100 pieces –  wgr wheat bread, 1 = 1 oz. eq. wgr grain
1 oz. – pan spray, butter flavored


3 days prior to day of service:

  1. Pull eggs from freezer. Open cases and remove cartons from case.
  2. Place cartons on sheet pans with space between to allow for thawing.
  3. Place pans on lowest available shelf in cooler to thaw. CCP: Hold below 41° F.
  4. Wash hands thoroughly.

Day of service pre-prep:

  1. Clean and sanitize prep area.
  2. Pull 7 full sheet pans and place at workstation.
  3. Spray pans thoroughly.
  4. Pull bread, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla, and place at workstation.
  5. Pull eggs and milk from cooler and place at workstation.
  6. Pull 2-gallon mixing pitcher or bowl. CCP: Prepare foods at room temperature in two hours or less. TOTAL time of food at room temperature shall not exceed four hours.

Day of service continued:

  1. Wash hands thoroughly.
  2. Pour eggs into large pitcher or bowl.
  3. Add sugar, cinnamon and vanilla.
  4. Whisk well.
  5. Add milk to egg mixture.
  6. Whisk well.
  7. Wash hands thoroughly and put on gloves.
  8. Spray sheet pans completely with butter flavored pan spray.
  9. Spread bread out on sheet pans, 15 pieces per pan, 3 by 5.
  10. Pour egg mix into smaller pitcher.
  11. Pour 1/4 cup egg mixture over center of each piece of bread, slowly drenching.
  12. Allow egg mixture to soak into bread.


Place sheet pans of homemade French Toast in preheated   convection oven at 350° F for 15 minutes or until an internal temperature of 165° F is reached.

CCP: Heat until an internal temperature is reached of 165° F for 15 seconds. SOP: Batch cook as necessary to insure best end product and nutritional. Hold baked French toast in   warmer preheated to 140° F. CCP: Hold above 135° F.

Serve 1 slice of homemade French toast with topping of choice.

Nutrients per serving:

Calories – 140
Chol (mg) – 110
Sodium (mg) – 200
Fiber (gm) – 2
Iron (mg) – 2
Calc (mg) – 107
Vit A (IU) – 206
Vit C (mg) – 1*
Protein (gm) – 7
Carb (gm) – 19
Tot Fat (gm) – 4
Sat Fat (gm) – 1
Sugars (gm) – 0
Trans Fat (gm) – 0.000*



Spice Up National School Lunch Week – Southwestern Style!

This week is National School Lunch Week!

For NSLW 2016, we are featuring recipes from our 2016 Meals Plus Customer Cookbook. This cookbook will feature 50+ delicious school meal recipes submitted by Meals Plus Customers and school lunch recipes using USDA Foods. And best of all – every Meals Plus Customer receives one free copy! The cookbook will be available to download for everyone this fall. 

Today’s featured recipe is Southwestern Vegetarian Salad and was submitted by Asheboro City Schools (NC).

3 oz. – salad mix
2 oz. –  Bush’s taco fiesta black beans
2 oz. – yellow shredded cheddar cheese, RF
1 oz. – peeled raw cucumber
3 each – cherry tomatoes

1. Place 2 cups (3oz) of salad mix in plastic container.
2. Place 2 oz. of drained beans in the center of the lettuce.
3. Above the beans, sprinkle 2 oz. of cheese.
4. In the bottom left hand corner, place tomatoes.
5. In the bottom right hand corner, place sliced cucumbers.
6. Place 8 packs of crackers in the container.
7. Before closing the lid of the container, place 6 partially open containers on a full sheet pan and place in the walk-in for 5 minutes. (This will help bring down the temperature of all the food items quickly and prevent condensation.)
8. After 5 minutes, close the lid and put a label on it.

southwestern2Nutrients per serving:
Calories – 415
Chol (mg) – 32.00
Sodium (mg) – 1073.55
Fiber (gm) – 8.23
Iron (mg) – 3.14
Calc (mg) – 556.84
Vit A (IU) – 5556.78
Vit C (mg) – 12.65
Protein (gm) – 22.91
Carb (gm) – 47.33
Tot Fat (gm) – 14.86
Sat Fat (gm) – 8.58
Sugars (gm) – 4.12
Trans Fat (gm) – 0.000*


Cooking Contest Allows Students to Contribute to District Menu

If you’ve been following our blog, you are probably already aware that Lexington School District One (SC) is promoting their meal program in really fun and exciting ways. They have had cooking demonstrations at community-wide festivals, increased participation in the lunchroom with Rice Krispies Treats® and are currently hosting a cooking contest for their district’s students.

Lexington 1 Cooks is a healthy lunch recipe competition for students that enjoy making healthy and affordable lunches. Three winners will be chosen by a panel of guest judges, each will win an All-Clad Sauté Pan and Spatula, and their recipe will be featured on the 2016-2017 district’s menu. The Grand Prize winners will also have their recipes featured in our 2016 Meals Plus Customer Cookbook. There will be prizes for second and third places, and every student that submits a recipe will receive a coupon for one free sales item in their cafeteria.

Each recipe submission must meet NSLP guidelines and use ingredients from a pre-approved list, which means Lexington One Cooks not only teaches students about healthy meal choices, but it is also an opportunity to teach students and parents about school menu regulations.

Invitation to the First Annual Lexington One Cooks Award Ceremony.

Invitation to the First Annual Lexington One Cooks Award Ceremony.

The winners will be announced on May 5th, 2016, and we can’t wait to share the winners and their recipes here on our blog. Good luck to the participants and thank you, Lexington School District One, for making school meals fun!


Child Nutrition Member Composes Heartfelt Poem for Her Less Fortunate Students

usda_nutritional_analysis_programBrenda Purdin is a member of the child nutrition team at Pattison Elementary at Milford Schools (OH). She recently wrote this poem entitled “Hungry” for the less fortunate students that she and her team members serve every day. She shared it with her colleagues, and now would like to share it with child nutrition professionals across the country, in the hopes that they all realize how important their jobs are, and how they affect their students’ lives more than they realize.


Most times there’s no breakfast, no dinner, it’s true;
That’s why, when I’m hungry 
I’m counting on you.

“We are not a charity case”
“To accept hand outs
Would be a disgrace,”
My father has said this 
Time after time;
But, my stomach is growling 
While I stand in your line.

I smell the food 
As we walk down the hall,
While others discuss 
Their trips to the mall;
I fight back the tears,
Anticipate taste;
My tray will be full, 
Without any waste.

I am so grateful 
For the food that you serve;
The smells, and the tastes
That I may not deserve.

Thank you, Brenda, for allowing us to share your poem with other child nutrition professionals, and for your hard work and dedication to serve students! You are a shining star in the Meals Plus Family.


Tips from Cynthia Sevier, SNS, Child Nutrition Operations Consultant

In our white paper, “Managing the Money on the Pantry Shelves,” Child Nutrition Operations Consultant Cynthia Sevier, SNS, shares tips to managing your child nutrition department’s inventory. Menu planning, supply chains, food costs, tracking foods and more are examined. Below is the “Procurement” section of this free white paper.School_food_inventory

After a menu has been developed, the procurement processes of product search and bid development begins.

Some argue that the menu cannot be developed before a product search is done. However, the cost of experimenting with products on menus that have not been tested with students could prove to be costly.

Whichever is preferred, menus must be completed in adequate time to order commodities and to develop bids. In order to accommodate changes in student preferences, availability in the market or changes in commodity purchases, plan menus with some flexibility.

Inventory management includes the purchase of quality products at reasonable prices. Inferior products may result in a decrease in participation or spoiled inventory that has be discarded. The possible success of a recipe begins with quality ingredients.”

For more tips on managing your district cafeterias’ inventory, download your free copy of
Managing the Money on the Pantry Shelves: Inventory Management for Your Child Nutrition Department


SNIC 2015 Was a Huge Success!

SNIC_2015As always, the SNA School Nutrition Industry Conference was an enormous success. Meals Plus Account Manager Joy Miller and Child Nutrition Operations Consultant Cynthia Sevier, SNS were on-hand for the event in Phoenix, AZ and enjoyed meeting with other industry representatives and school nutrition directors. This year’s General Sessions focused on embracing change through collaborative partnerships and creative marketing. (Speaking of creative marketing – have you downloaded a copy of “The 5 P’s of Promoting Your School Meal Program”?) SNIC speakers also addressed various K-12 child nutrition issues, including sustainability and the green restaurant movement, “Farm-to-School” and “Farm-to-Fork” initiatives, and the creation of school gardens.

Thank you to the School Nutrition Association for hosting the event! We look forward to next year.