Even after three days of alphabet soup – the feds really love their acronyms: CNAAT, FPRS, CNSSW, SEBTC, HHFKA…and the list goes on – I can say that attendees of the first annual CNAAT training (Child Nutrition Access and Accountability through Technology) seem ready to keep chewing on the topics addressed at this USDA training event. The theme for the inaugural event was “Starting the Conversation in 2015” and the conversation has definitely been started!
The CNAAT training event in Atlanta a few weeks ago was certainly an eye-opener for me. I walked away with a clear sense of just how much State agencies hunger to learn more from each other, USDA experts, and even industry partners. It felt oddly like the first time I realized that my parents are regular people that need love and support just as much as their kids do. State agencies want training events and dedicated networking time just as much as school districts do!
Although the training only lasted three days, there was a ton of information packed into the three separate educational tracks as well as the general sessions. If you missed this training event you can find the presentation materials online. Of course, you can usually gain more by actually hearing a presentation live so I highly recommend that you plan to attend in person for the second annual CNAAT training event! No, I don’t know any details for next year, but trust me, I will let you know as soon as I know!
In addition to attending multiple learning sessions, I was honored to be asked to participate in the “Using Technology to Measure Program Compliance” panel. I spoke to the technology trend that is gaining most speed among State agencies – statewide daily compliance software. If you have read any of my other articles you are already familiar with the concept of statewide Menu Planning and Food Production software systems which I touched on during my CNAAT presentation. But I also covered areas that we haven’t really discussed in our blogs such as streamlined Administrative Reviews, statewide Student Eligibility, and Point of Service (POS) for daily School Food Authority (SFA) use.
You might not be surprised to hear that State agency-provided POS software seemed to be the hot topic. The buzz following this session was palpable. Now that I realize State agencies want to learn more about how providing POS software to under-resourced SFAs can benefit both SFAs and State agencies, let me get to work sharing information on this topic. I feel a new blog series coming on…
Overall, the spirit of collaborative learning was energizing at USDA’s CNAAT training. People from different areas of the country with different areas of expertise openly shared best practices and new ideas. I have one thing to say to USDA and the Child Nutrition State System Workgroup (CNSSW) members who dreamed up this event: Mission accomplished – the conversation is off to a great start! Now it is up to the rest of us to continue the conversation throughout the year until we meet again for the second annual CNAAT training.