School nutrition focus of conference in Baltimore

Experts sharing ideas on ways to create more healthful lunch menus

July 18, 2005|By Winyan Soo Hoo | Winyan Soo Hoo,Special to Baltimoresun.com

School lunch programs across the country have earned praise in recent years for including more helpings of fruits and vegetables and fewer fried foods.

Hoping to continue that trend, nutrition experts are sharing their ideas for promoting healthful eating habits of America's schoolchildren during their annual meeting, being held this week in Baltimore.

"We want to make sure people who serve lunch know the latest food research, cooking techniques and government regulations," said Erik Peterson, the director of Public Awareness for the School Nutrition Association. "School nutrition professionals directly affect the types of foods offered to students every day."

The School Nutrition Association's 59th Annual National Conference, which began Sunday and continues through Wednesday at the Baltimore Convention Center, includes discussion of school food nutrition standards and safety; local school wellness policies; financial management; and childhood obesity prevention.

An estimated 3,600 school nutrition specialists are scheduled to attend, with more than 100 educational sessions and an exhibit hall of 400 food industry representatives planned, Peterson said.

The event also features several guest speakers, including former Oriole Cal Ripken Jr., former state Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Subway's adopted spokesman, Jared Fogle.

In addition, three members of the association are receiving awards for their accomplishments in school nutrition. SNA is a nonprofit professional organization that aims to provide low-cost, healthy meals to students nationwide.

In partnership with the Child Nutrition Foundation, SNA also sponsored the seventh annual Global Child Nutrition Forum this month.

The event, held last Thursday through Sunday at the Baltimore Convention Center, focused on preventing food-borne illness and networking between nations, Peterson said. Participants included experts from 14 countries.

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