VERONA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – According to Feeding America, one in seven children in New York State faces hunger. Fortunately, school meals, including breakfast and lunch, benefit all students equally and play a vital role in alleviating food insecurity and improving academic achievements.

According to CDC, students in America consume as much as half of their daily calories from school meals. Therefore, it is important to maintain a healthy school nutrition environment that appeals to students’ appetites. Among over 130 vendors at the conference, there are food sampling and menu design software for school nutrition directors to give a try. After that, the food brand usually will be invited to the school for students to taste before making a final purchasing deal.

As an annual conference, this year’s new trend is the more flexible menu design.

“As far as trends, we do see our students love to have a lot of menu options, they love to be able to customize, food bars, stations where they can really take ownership of what they are putting on their plate, ramen bars, deli bars, noodle bars, sauces stations, there are all the things that they are seeing in retail operations so we are trying to bring them to school and again make them healthy and appealing to students,” said Caitlin Lazarski, president of New York School Nutrition Association.

School directors walk around to chat with sales representatives, take a bite at the food vendors and learn about the latest farm products.

“Diary Association with the East wants to ensure that all the students are fueled for the day with dairy. And we try to do that by creating innovative recipes such as yogurt smoothies, yogurt coffee, even pizza,” said Aisha King, Director of Youth Nutrition Services at American Dairy Association North East.

“Our company Ling has been in the business for thirty years focusing on K-12 technology. Really what we are doing is getting multiple departments within a school district and providing integrated software solutions,” said Dee White, Regional Director of sales at LINQ.

The majority of the food vendors come within New York state, thus guaranteeing the freshness and promptness of school meals.

Lazarski encourages students to try out the new recipe as child nutrition constantly evolves.

“We always try to encourage our students to try something new. And they might learn
that they actually love something that is very good for them,” she said.