Conference focuses on school nutrition

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- A conference this week in La Crosse for school nutrition workers is addressing the way Wisconsin schools feed their students.

While students are on summer vacation, 300 school nutrition professionals from across the state are still working, gathering at the La Crosse Center for the School Nutrition Association of Wisconsin's annual conference.

They're talking about topics such as customer service, portion sizing, and social media.

"The really neat thing about it is you have 300 people that are sharing ideas and what works well in their district," said Michael Gasper, President-Elect of the School Nutrition Association of Wisconsin. "So what you'll see happen is people will take the ideas they get here back to their schools and can implement some new programs that really work well in other districts."

The conference has been held every year for the last 60 years and the professionals attending this week say school lunches have changed quite a bit over the last six decades.

"When I was a kid, it was basically mashed potatoes and turkey, it seems," said Gasper. "You see a lot of diversity now and a lot of different foods. Kids are far more sophisticated these days so you see a lot of programs really diversifying."

But the professionals say there's always room for improvement.

"I think we can always strive to find out what the kids want, what they want to eat," said Sarah Mumm, Nutrition Team Leader at Holmen High School. "And do a better job of presenting that to them and making it more appealing. No matter how good we do we can always do it a little bit better."

And they say many students do want healthy options.

"I'm amazed at the amount of salad bar, and fresh vegetables and fruit we go through on a daily basis," Mumm said. "I think they are craving that stuff."

When the conference ends Wednesday the districts hope to take back some ideas to help feed their own students next school year.

"We care about them and that's why we do this," said Mumm.



 
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