On the Road - TASN 2016

Summer is officially here! Bring on the cook outs, sunny days, family vacations, and good ol’ relaxation. I have definitely been partaking in each and every one of those activities, even out here in the Houston, TX heat!

In the school nutrition industry, the shift into summer also brings something else – a significant increase in the amount of conferences and learning sessions that we’re invited to attend. Many states choose to have their annual school nutrition conference in the summer months, because more people will be free and able to attend. Since we’re an industry partner, we head out to as many as we can to meet and mingle with all of you!

Last week, I had the pleasure of making the quick 2-hour drive to Austin, TX for Texas’ annual statewide conference – TASN (Texas Association of School Nutrition). Let me just say, those TASN people really do know how to put on a great conference!

Personally, I really enjoy attending the learning sessions offered throughout the conference. Often times these sessions are quite interactive and I always walk away feeling that I learned something that I didn’t know before I walked into that room. This year, we actually had a few people from within PrimeroEdge give presentations about industry topics – like finance and understanding differences in cultural communication.

*Sidenote: if you want to check out those presentations – head over to this page and you can view the slides for both presentations.

While I can’t attend every session that was offered, I went to a couple that I absolutely loved.

First up, Marketing Meatless Meals presented by Eddie Garza and Karla Dumas, both from The Humane Society of the United States. When I read the description for this presentation in the TASN app, I was immediately sold. Meatless meals have been gaining traction in both meals cooked in the home and at the school, and I was curious to hear some of the research behind why and how that is taking place. This session did not disappoint!

There are three main ways that a child nutrition program can market their meatless or plant-based options, and corresponding marketing materials that go with each. Meatless Monday, Lean & Green, and Plant Strong are all options that districts can use to promote healthy menu items. The Humane Society seemed very willing and open to give out tons of marketing materials for free that could help promote these special menu days in your district. Definitely check them out if you are currently serving or considering adding some meatless items to your menus.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the rock star that is Mr. Kevin Ponce, SNS, Director of School Nutrition Services from Oklahoma City Public Schools. In addition to his job within his school district, he is also the SNA Southwest Regional Director. Talk about wearing a bunch of hats!

He presented on two topics: understanding and empathizing with your co-workers’ emotions and how to manage a new generation of workers – millennials. Both of those presentations were fantastic. Mr. Ponce is an engaging, energetic personality that had no trouble connecting with his audience. Throughout his long career, he’s seen it all and shared several heart-wrenching stories. I’m not sure, but I think I saw a few ladies wiping away tears during some of these stories! (It is also possible that I might have been in the tear-shedding group!)

He shared a video of a TED Talk that was honestly one of the most moving and inspirational videos I’ve seen in a long time. Ms. Rita Pierson, a veteran educator, gave a speech on the importance of relationship building through the lens of an educator. You may not be teaching the kids their history lesson of the day or helping them practice their multiplication tables, but working in child nutrition, you are an educator to these children all the same! You have the opportunity to build positive relationships with the kids you serve which can make a big impact on their growing lives. I’m embedding the video below, and I do hope you will take 7 minutes to watch it. You will be so glad you did!


As we continue trekking around the country to various state shows and the upcoming ANC, be sure to look out for more of our PrimeroEdge “On the Road” blogs. We love getting out there and meeting you, our loyal blog readers! Subscribe to our newsletter (located on the sidebar of this page) to ensure that you know where we’ll be next!