Live from the School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference Exhibit Floor

Ever try a whole grain eggroll? How about low-sodium curry chicken sushi roll? Or 13 kinds of rice? A healthier version of chicken and waffles?

The School Nutrition Association’s 71st Annual National Conference in Atlanta featured over 400 exhibit booths with nutritious foods, beverages and cafeteria tools that help school nutrition professionals offer the best options to their students.

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SNA’s 2017 Annual National Conference in Atlanta (GA).

In addition to food, equipment, software and service companies, non-profits and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) were also represented on the 200,000 square-foot exhibit floor.

More than 7,100 school nutrition professionals descended upon the exhibit floor to taste test new products and potential menu options, try out new gadgets and kitchen equipment and learn about tech programs that could better ensure the success of school meal programs across the country. All products meet the federal nutrition standards for school meals, helping to make nutritious and balanced food more fun and palatable to a variety of student tastes.

The recipe and food tasting is always a highlight for food show attendees. Fresh fruits and vegetables abound, and some very delicious recipes were featured throughout the hall. Everything from fresh street tacos, salad and soup bars and stir fry; whole grain pastas, egg rolls, cinnamon buns; low-sodium teriyaki chicken – it was all there. Some of well-known brands were represented, highlighting their products specifically designed for students with increased whole grains, meat alternatives, gluten and nut free options, reduced sodium and less sugar.

Technology and equipment companies also presented their products, which help support menu planning and cafeteria operations, expanding student access to nutritious meals.

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Learning virtual menu planning and nutritional information, to be featured on school and district websites, for students and parents to use.

There are programs that help parents weed out school menu options with nuts or gluten and others that help organize and simplify school nutrition program websites and menus.

Food service professionals in search of eco-friendly packaging or grab-and-go packing solutions were in luck, with many companies offering a wide selection of newly designed lunch trays, plastic wrap sealing machines and biodegradable products.

School nutrition professionals also sought out specialty equipment, such as meat slicers and vegetable/fruit choppers, better dish washing set-ups and large quantity cooking equipment.

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School Nutrition Professionals learning about the latest in slicing and dicing in large quantities.

The floor was truly abuzz with questions, conversations, demonstrations and many “yums!” from School Nutrition Association members!

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