School nutrition training conference in Natchez

Published 12:30 am Friday, November 9, 2018


NATCHEZ – New trends impacting public and private school nutrition programs throughout the state will be the subject of a four-day training conference that began Thursday at the Convention Center, Grand Hotel and Community Center.

The conference, which is expected to draw more than 500 members of the state School Nutrition Association, will run through Sunday. This is the 49th year for the annual event and this year’s theme is “Let the good times roll.”

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“This is a great time to network with child nutrition professionals as well as industry professionals from around the country,” said Jeremy Berry, Mississippi School Nutrition Association vice president and child nutrition director of Lincoln County Schools.

Berry said hundreds of food industry partners will be showcased during the conference and will display their products, equipment and technology as well as share the latest food trends. Berry said the intent of the conference is to come up with new and cleaver ways to encourage children and teenagers in making healthy food choices.

“The industry council is looking forward to showcasing new food products, equipment, and supplies to help better serve the children of Mississippi,” said Jarri Vandiver, industry advisory chairwoman and market lead for Affinity Group.

“It’s a really great event,” Vandiver said.

Berry said more than 500,000 meals are served daily in Mississippi schools.

“It’s actually surprising to people how many meals we serve a day,” said Bradley Barlow child nutrition director of Harrison County Schools. “We serve over 30,000 in Harrison County and most of those are to low-poverty families.”

Barlow said that more than 50 percent of meals served in state public schools are to children and teens from low-income families.

“In some cases,” Barlow said. “It’s the only hot meal some kids get that day.”

The conference includes activities such as cupcake wars, bowling and a New Orleans-style second line parade at 6:30 p.m. Friday. The parade begins at the convention center and ends at the community center and will be followed by a reception for participants.

“We are really excited to celebrate the success of child nutrition in Mississippi,” said Christell Hicks, MSNA President and Child Nutrition Director of Clinton Schools. “Let the good times roll.”