Fresh Bites Fall Edition 2021

Meet the Intern




JULIA ALOTTA Julia is currently a student at the University at Albany working towards a degree in public administration with a concentration in non- profit management. She received her undergraduate degree from the University at Albany last December with a double major in public policy and public health and is expected to graduate with her master’s degree in May 2022. Julia’s goal is to continue to work in school nutrition until every single child has access to healthy and nutritious meals. The sky is the limit! NYSNA Intern source food from a local farmer, they could just pick the apples themselves and put it on the student’s plates. It was mind blowing to realize the documentation that goes into selecting every food item. I also had no idea the role of Food Service Directors—growing up I thought the lunch lady who would check my lunch ticket was running the whole show. Moral of the story, I have learned that food service is all about teamwork. As one of my intern projects, I have had the opportunity to host podcast interviews with Food Service Directors across the state to discuss their NY 30% Incentive program or Farm to School Programs. All of the conversations I had really enlightened me about how fresh food arrives on the students’ plates. From discussions about marketing a school lunch program to which menu item was the most popular, I am better able to understand how crucial school meals are. More importantly, this information is being used in this fall edition of Fresh Bites, to help encourage more Food Service Directors to participate in these programs. This has been so impactful for me as the amount of information I have learned is endless and I feel I am stepping towards reaching my goals. One of the main aspects of working for NYSNA that I love is that there is no wrong answer. All creative ideas are welcome because those are the ones that help solve problems. Everyone in this field and at HQ has been extremely welcoming and encouraging of my goals. If there is anything I have learned about myself, it is the importance of speaking up because you never know if your one comment can change the trajectory of a decision. In closing, I am really looking forward to learning more about this industry and getting to know all of you amazing members! - Julia - Hi School Nutrition Professionals! My name is Julia Alotta and I have been the intern at NYSNA for a little over two months while working towards my master’s in public administration. I found this internship the best way I knew how, and that was using Google! After searching for key words like “nutrition” “school food” and “child nutrition” I came across the NY School Nutrition Association. I then decided to reach out and give them a call myself. When Jennifer answered the phone, we talked about how she was looking for a part time employee and how I needed internship hours. We scheduled an interview, she met with me, and the rest is history. The key words that I typed into Google were not on accident - those words are paramount to my passion. I have always been interested in health and wellness. Quite honestly, I eat, sleep, and breathe those words. I truly believe that everything we eat has a profound effect on our physical and mental well-being. The importance of child nutrition resonated with me when I went to visit a cafeteria at a local school district in the Capital Region. The cafeteria was filled with elementary students ranging in ages 5-10 years old and I remember seeing multiple students not eating their lunch and just throwing it out. Two thoughts ran through my head - either they are not hungry, or they do not like the food. Given the data about the district, it was obvious that for some students those school meals are probably the only guaranteed meals they will receive all day. And if they are not eating the school food, they are less likely to be able to focus in class - as we all know, hungry children can’t learn. Long story short, it is my life’s goal to make sure all students receive the most nutritious meals in school to help set them up for success in and outside the classroom. Thankfully, NYSNA’s mission aligns Long story short, it is my life’s goal to make sure all students receive the most nutritious meals in school to help set them up for success in and outside the classroom. with my goals, and I am grateful to have landed here for so many reasons. For starters, I did not realize how much I didn’t know about school nutrition and all its nuances. Before NYSNA, I thought if a Food Service Director wanted to JULIA ALOTTA Intern “

Have you been curious about NYSNA leadership and how to get more involved? NYSNA is always looking for future leaders and there are many ways to get engaged. Volunteering allows you to connect with other members that share your passion for the association and the industry! Consider serving on a task force or a committee – or even running for a position on the board! NYSNA is recruiting for members to serve on the following task forces and committees this year: • Awards & Scholarships Committee • Membership Committee • Public Policy & Legislation Committee • Chapter Task Force • Mentorship Task Force Serving on the NYSNA Board of Directors or a Committee Benefits Your School District! When a school nutrition professional from your district serves as a Board Member or on a committee for the New York School Nutrition Association (NYSNA), there are tremendous benefits for the district. Leadership participation in a state professional association helps employees improve their skills and stay on the cutting edge of information in their profession. They use these opportunities to be better managers of the challenges and opportunities in their district. We have seen professionals succeed in their state responsibilities in exciting ways that have brought multiple benefits to the district. BENEFITS TO THE DISTRICT: ▪Best practices in school nutrition from around the state/country are brought back to the district ▪State, and even National attention is brought to the district as many of the school nutrition professionals interact with the media and national allied organizations. ▪District programs and accomplishments often receive statewide recognition.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS: The spring election will have to the following positions on the ballot: • Vice President • Northeast Area Director • Southeast Area Director • Southern Tier Area Director • Western Area Director • At Large Directors (2) Be on the lookout for nomination information and contact Headquarters for more information!

BENEFITS TO THE SCHOOL NUTRITION PROFESSIONAL: • Develops and strengthens leadership skills • Improves public speaking skills through spokesperson training • Improves critical thinking skills through national policy work • Improves project management skills through committee management responsibilities • Improves understanding of budgeting and financial management practices • Mentors future leadership talent BENEFITS TO THE DISTRICT’S SCHOOL NUTRITION SERVICES STAFF: • It is an opportunity for the staff as they “stretch” during a candidate’s absence, learning new skills and acquiring new knowledge. • Best practices and solutions to challenges developed by other school nutrition professionals are brought back to them by their supervisor/ colleague.



FALL 2021


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