Fresh Bites Spring Edition 2022

President’s Message


for what we as directors know could be detrimental come June 30, 2022. Although our association’s legislative efforts for this year have passed, I want to stress that it is never too late to reach out to your local representatives and engage them in conversation surrounding those action items that make your job, your students, your districts and your communities better served through school meals. One take away that I learned this year was that there are groups out there actively engaged in fighting for or against certain action items that we know are important to the work that we do every day. I was baffled, to say the least, that organizations were speaking out having never engaged in conversation with us, the actual operators. I cannot stress this enough…. NO ONE CAN TELL YOUR STORY BETTER THAN YOU! If you want change, you need to advocate for it. Waiting for someone else to step up to the plate on your behalf is no longer acceptable. There are plenty of people out there willing to have their voice heard, even if that voice is misinformed. You know that old saying “Be the change you wish to see in the world” Now, more than ever, it is vital to the future of students everywhere that we speak up on their behalf.

Happy Spring! Whew… the past several months have been a whirlwind of new experiences and activities for me. To say that I am learning so many new things about school food would be an understatement. I would like to share some of my experiences thus far in this leadership journey. In January, I had the opportunity to travel to San Antonio, Texas for my first experience at SNA’s SNIC conference. For those of you that are new and struggling to recognize all these acronyms, SNIC is the School Nutrition Industry Conference. I think this is the area that I am most pleasantly surprised to be learning new things from. It wasn’t until I started my role as President that I realized just how important our industry partners are. I always knew they were an integral part of our association and our day-to-day operations, but I never realized the perspective from their point of view. It has become one of my greatest accomplishments to get to know them, their products, and how they fit in the world of School Nutrition. They are all genuinely interested and passionate in helping us food service professionals best serve our students. Whether it is getting us product we may have difficulty procuring or developing new products to keep our students engaged in our programs, our industry partners are working hard every day to improve our programs. This conference was jam packed with innovative solutions to our distribution struggles throughout the pandemic and thoughtful insights in navigating our new normal, consisting of staffing shortages, supply chain disruptions and navigating business in the new digital age of Zoom. As I watched our industry partners engage with each other, I realized that they are just as frustrated as us in terms of supply chain issues. Rest assured though, they are working hard on our behalf, to try and find solutions so that we can resume normal business. Thank you again, to our Industry partners for all that they do for us program operators. School Nutrition Industry Conference I had a unique opportunity shortly after SNIC to engage in a personal interview with Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Cindy Long, USDA regarding Universal Feeding, the increase in the federal reimbursement rate, our difficulties with supply chain disruptions and the multiple layers of mandates and regulation we face every day. I found Administrator Long to be very responsive, interested, and engaged in our conversation. I can’t say that I came away from the conversation with any clear-cut answers, but what I did get from our conversation was that the administration is actively engaged in working with SNA and individual operators to do what is in our best interests. The biggest take away I have from this, is that our efforts in advocating with our local and national leaders regarding what is in the best interest of our students and our programs is more necessary now, then ever before. While she made no promises regarding a federal Universal Feeding program, she did say that FNS was actively pushing state governments to lower the CEP threshold making more households eligible under these guidelines and ultimately giving the opportunity for free meals for more students through the Community Eligibility Provision. Of course, I can’t forget to mention our own legislative endeavors. As I write this article, we are just finishing up with our Legislative Action Conference. This was also another pleasant surprise for me this year. In previous years I always knew that advocating on behalf of our students and programs was important, but this year I found myself actively engaged in many key conversations with state assembly men and women and state senators advocating, sometimes very passionately, 2022 NYSNA Legislative Action Conference Interview with Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Cindy Long, USDA


I also would like to take this opportunity to thank our PP&L committee: Artie Frego, Allissa Eiser and our incredibly hard-working and passionate headquarters staff for the amazing job you did coordinating this conference. The content was extremely helpful in preparing our attendees to “charge the hill” even if only through zoom. Special recognition to Julia, our Advocacy Coordinator on coordinating her first conference. You did a great job. I thought it was a productive conference in which the fruits of our efforts are still unknown at the time of this writing. I do know however, that child nutrition programs everywhere are front and center. Your voice matters…SPEAK UP! I hope to be seeing many of you at some upcoming local chapter events. At the time of this writing, I am aware of several local chapters planning in-person spring banquets and celebrations. Just typing this makes me very happy. I feel as though we are coming out the other side of this pandemic and I couldn’t be happier to be able to engage our membership in person and re-connect with everyone. I think we have some important work to do recruiting new members, re-engaging past members, and reconnecting with each other on a social level. I am greatly looking forward to this. As always, I want to hear from you. I am genuinely interested in what is happening in your neck of the woods. Please feel free to reach out to me with any of your comments, concerns and celebrations. I can’t wait to see you all soon. Happy Spring! Upcoming In-Person Events!

- Donna-

Donna Riviello Donna Riviello has been a school Food Service Director for the past 11+ years. She is currently employedas the Food Service Director of the Clyde Savannah School District. She has been a NYSNAmember for all of her 11+ years and she looks forward to serving this organization as president! NYSNA President







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