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.

School Nutrition Association’s ANC 2015 Wrap-Up

Another successful year at the School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference!

Members of the Meals Plus Team were on-hand at the SNA’s Annual National Conference last week, including Child Nutrition Operations Consultant, Cynthia Sevier, SNS. She wore many hats at ANC 2015 – attending general sessions, education sessions and was at the Meals Plus Booth during the exhibit hall hours handing out our collectible Salt Lake City lapel pins.

sna anc 2015Cynthia attended Sunday’s “Building a Financially Sustainable Meal Program” Education Session, where presenters including Jeremy West, CDM, SNS, of Weld County School District 6 (CO), illustrated how extremely important it is to know where your revenue comes from. Generating income outside of the standard breakfast and lunch hours is imperative. He recommended to “tell your story” with stakeholders, who are not only your students, but parents and district administrative staff as well. Don’t assume they know about your child nutrition program. If appropriate, share your business plan with them to optimize your department’s success. (For an in-depth look at the top indicators of your child nutrition department’s financial health, download our free white paper, “Fiscal Survival 101: Financial Success in the Era of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act.“)

Menu boards were also a popular topic of conversation at ANC 2015. Obviously they are used as a dynamic menu board in the cafeteria, but they can be used for so much more. School announcements, themes such as homecoming week, farm-to-school promotions, nutritional information and advertising new menu items are all appropriate topics for your menu boards. Remember to keep them current and there is no need to overcrowd them. Simplicity is key. (Do you use video menu boards in your cafeterias? Check out the Meals Plus menu board interface!)

And of course there are two major items in effect this year for our industry: Child Nutrition Reauthorization and Professional Standards for School Nutrition Professionals. There are lots of free resources available to make these processes easier, including a Food Research and Action Center Child Nutrition Reauthorization webinar and a Training Tracking Tool from the USDA. Follow our blog and e-newsletter (subscribe to our newsletter here) for more free resources to help with reauthorization and professional standards in the coming months.

Thank you to the School Nutrition Association, the city of Salt Lake City, and everyone who helped make ANC 2015 a success! We can’t wait to see you all in San Antonio next year!