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2017-2018 President's Letter

Wednesday, August 30, 2017   (0 Comments)

Diane Zak, SNS
SNA of Mass President 2017 – 2018

I am honored and humbled to be serving as the SNA of Massachusetts President for 2017 - 2018 - our 66th year as an association.  While our conference title this year is referencing the number of years of our association, and travels over “route 66”, my “theme” for the year is TEAMWORK!  

Personally, I feel all success comes from amazing teamwork (look at The New England Patriots!  Boston Red Sox)!  Our conference this year has a keynote speaker that will provide ideas for team building in your kitchens, and for the first time we will have the keynote speaker on both days!  We will have  a session for “managers only” where some of the managers from across the state will be using the MASSTERI training to present 4 mini lessons on teamwork.  We are honored this year to host a visitor from SNA’s National Board who will be speaking to us on Block Grants & also promoting our programs.  You all spoke and we listened! Overwhelmingly we heard that message that networking is so vital!  This year on day one we have ½ hour of “Chapter Networking” time .  On display in the foyer you can look for Chapter poster boards with pictures of your delegate and delegate elect, stop by and chat with some of your local peers!  Share and exchange ideas and best practices!  Our exhibit floor is growing by the day with the number of vendors.  This show never fails to bring us new ideas and vendors.

Our Tuesday evening Reception & Dinner will be held at the beautiful Mechanics Hall - a short walk from the convention center - we will be celebrating all of our 2016-17 award winners, and presenting the “Industry of the Year Award”.  Build yourself a “team” or be a brave solo artist for this year’s lip syncing contest!  Enjoy some “down time” with friends from across the state - after all I describe school food service people this way:  “When we work, we work HARD & when we play - we play HARD”  - please join us for some wonderful camaraderie!
Day 2 of our conference brings our Annual Meeting.  we will again have  a ½ hours of networking time.  We will have the pleasure of hearing from a local author and doctor to help us with controlling stress levels.  Another session this year will be regarding “Food Trends”.  The conference wraps up with an update from Rob Leshin from DESE - and then believe it or not our conference will come to an end for another year.

The conference title “The Road To Success” also touches on how I look at my personal family’s path in school food service.  You see the belief that no child should be hungry was acted upon by my Grandmother locally in Western Massachusetts in 1944 (2 years prior to President Truman).  Gram and 2 of her friends started combining produce from their family farms, getting donations from a local butcher and making soup and sandwiches and serving every student in the building!  With the next generation my Mom started working in the local elementary cafeteria making and serving lunches after I was in elementary school and retired after 18 years of feeding children.  The 3rd generation saw my oldest sister going to work in a local elementary school and cooking serving for over 15 years before retiring, my 2nd sister got her youngest into school and started working in another local elementary, then transferred to the high school where she worked a deli line during the school year and helped to prepare and deliver summer meals for several years prior to retiring with over 15+ years in school food service.

My personal start in feeding children was as a sub in my town of Sunderland’s elementary school in 1988 - yes I was one that would get that call at 7:30 a.m. that someone was out and could I be there ASAP?  After a year and a half there was an opening - I took it - perfect schedule with 2 elementary age children!  I was salad prep, also did the café monitoring during lunch, and after last lunch followed students to the playground as “recess monitor”, then returned to the kitchen to finish my day in the dish room!  What a journey I have had to climb the ladder and follow that long winding road - yes there have been curves and even speed bumps along the way, but I must say I do not believe I would have wanted things to have been different.  

One of my goals/priorities this year has to do with “Community” service and the image School Nutrition Association has in the public.  We all share the goal of feeding children healthy and appealing meals.  Many of our districts do a fantastic job of this during the school year, but we do not have summer feeding - this is where Project Bread and many local Food Banks, and pantries take over.  I would like to have The Mass. School Nutrition Association be very visible this next Spring at the Project Bread “Walk for Hunger”.  Let’s start planning now to assist one of our “partners” in the fight against Hungry Children in the State of Massachusetts.  

Please know that Massachusetts School Nutrition Association is here to assist all of you with your educational needs, challenges, and personal growth.  You will not find another organization as “close knit” and willing to share as SNA is.  As this year progresses, please consider volunteering for SNA, at a chapter meeting , on a committee, or even going on the ballot for delegate elect for the next school year - what you will personally gain in growth, confidence, self-value will totally outweigh the time given.  With the phenomenal board, our executive director, and association management on my “team”, assisting, supporting, and guiding me I am confident we can make strides forward in our state again this year.  We will continue to be the state in the Northeast with several award winners, as we are “TEAM Massachusetts”, and I am so proud and honored to be your President, and take this responsibility as seriously as I take feeding children.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at the DCU in Worcester October 17 & 18th!

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