First Choice

Rich’s School Nutrition Roundtable Uncovers Needs, Shares Opportunities and Successes

New school foodservice trends, products and training methods were among the topics on the plate at Rich’s sixth annual School Nutrition Roundtable, attended by a select, diverse group of school nutrition professionals from across the United States. 

“The School Nutrition Roundtable illustrates the Rich Experience at its best, giving Rich’s the opportunity to build intimacy with our customers by listening to their needs and creating solutions to meet those needs,” explained Jennifer Besing, Rich’s Marketing Manager. “At the same time, we’re sharing our insights as a foodservice industry knowledge leader, while demonstrating Rich’s strength in school nutrition.”

Rich’s School Team hosted the June 2013 roundtable on St. Simons Island, Ga. Ted Rich, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience, kicked off the gathering by discussing how school nutrition directors can create memorable experiences for their customers – the children they serve. That opened up a sharing session led by Michael Galante, Rich’s Manager of Motivation and Celebration, during which customers recounted some opportunities and successes in creating noteworthy experiences in their respective school districts.

Besing, along with Marketing Managers Richard Sherry and Loraine Grimm, presented seven new product platform concepts (involving 20 individual products) and utilized some of the company’s proprietary, creative-problem-solving tools to collect feedback about the potential benefits and concerns for each. The invitees agreed there were several home-run products in the series, while some other items merited further refinement.

Keynote speaker Dr. Katie Wilson, from the National School Foodservice Management Institute at the University of Mississippi, discussed best practices for training adult learners – an essential competence for school districts, which must train their personnel on myriad topics, from meeting new meal-pattern requirements to safety and sanitation.

An interactive presentation on trends by Bill Heiler, Manager of Consumer Insights, focused on the foodservice industry as it pertains to “Generation We” – particularly, what motivates today’s millennials and how they learn.  The nutrition professionals said it was exactly what they were interested in hearing.

“This was one of the most beneficial, interesting and engaging meetings I have attended in a long time” said Stephanie Taylor, School Nutrition Director for Ware County Schools in Georgia. “I enjoyed the interaction with other school nutrition professionals and Rich’s associates. It was a great experience.”

Attendees also had an opportunity to get their hands on certain Rich’s products that can be used in localized, recipe training videos. Shirley Brown, Rich’s Director of Product Training, developed model, instructive scripts for the videos and Glenn Forbes, Zone One Culinarian, provided tips for creating an effective training piece.

About Rich’s School Nutrition Roundtable

The objectives of the Rich’s School Nutrition Roundtable include relationship-building with school foodservice customers, a better understanding of mutual needs and goals, and the gathering of customer feedback and insights on Rich’s school foodservice products, services and concepts.

The number of roundtable attendees each year is limited, to ensure an informal, casual atmosphere for conversation and camaraderie with the Rich Family and company associates. Participation is spread across school districts of various sizes and determined by the school nutritionists’ proven program success; segment leadership; innovation and trendsetting; and willingness to share best practices.

The 2014 School Nutrition Roundtable is scheduled to be held in Rich’s new, state-of-the-art Customer Innovation Center at the company’s World Headquarters, in Buffalo, N.Y.