Conference Sessions

Pre-Conference Sessions


Stress Management & Self-Care Your Way, Alicia Whalen, Fairfield Community School District

We often get overwhelmed, overworked and stressed. Self-Care seems too far out of our reach. But how can we care for ourselves in a way that allows us to get things done and not feel the overwhelm? In this presentation, you will learn about Clifton Strengths, a tool that will help you learn about your specific strengths and how to use them in everything you do. By learning more about your strengths, it will lower stress and

overwhelm and allow you to feel more focused and energized, getting things done and

caring for yourself (and others) in the process.

Alicia Whalen lives in Mount Pleasant, Iowa with her husband (currently deployed with the

Iowa Army National Guard), three children, and her mom, who was a food service cook/

manager for 23 years. She currently works with the Fairfield Community School District

as the Food Service Secretary. Her passion lies in coaching and mentoring others in their

Strengths, helping others realize their uniqueness and value they bring to their relationships

and how they can use that to do everything in a way that honors who they are.

Making It Work for You! Motivation, Mindset, and Goals!, Stacy Mitchell, Registered Dietician Nutritionist

Do you ever feel like you fall off track with your eating or exercise habits?  Do you seem to lose motivation half way through a program? Do you find the weekends are out of control when it comes to eating well?  Stacy will break it down for you! Eating healthy and sticking to exercise is not a one-size-fits-all program. Learn her method to help you find your rhythm to make healthy habits stick for life!  This session will cover what is necessary to make a habit sustainable, make intentional goals, develop a flexible weekly meal planning system, and explore the path to find your “happy movement”.  

Stacy Mitchell is a registered dietitian nutritionist, certified personal trainer, wife and mom

of three. She currently has her own website and podcast focusing on helping people find

their “ah-ha” moments toward feeling their best through movement and healthy eating

habits.  She also works for a child nutrition education program and offer personal training

services at a local gym. Previously Stacy worked 13 years in retail grocery setting,

developing programs and educational materials for weight loss, diabetes, heart disease,

childhood nutrition, and corporate wellness. 


Decoding Difficult Conversation, Sheila Heen, Harvard Law School

In this discussion, Sheila dissects the three layers of every difficult conversation, shares

powerful insights to ensure effective communication takes place, and explains how we

may be inadvertently teaching our kids terrible negotiation tactics (and what to do instead.)  

Sheila Heen has been a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School since 1995. She has

spent the last twenty years with the Harvard Negotiation Project, developing negotiation

theory and practice. Heen specializes in particularly difficult negotiations – where emotions

run high and relationships become strained. Heen is co-author of the New York Times

Business Bestseller, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most

(Penguin 2000).

Solution Focused DiscussionsSNA Iowa Board Members

We all have challenges in our daily lives and at work. And sometimes we just need a few moments to sit down with someone to talk it through.  This interactive session will be designed as a drop in session with an opportunity for you to do just that. SNA Iowa Board members will be on hand to help you work through issues and ideas, or to just lend an ear.

Breakout Sessions


Everybody Has a Great Idea....What’s Yours??SNA Iowa Board Members

With all of the challenges of the past year, food service workers have had to adapt, communicate, and improvise like never before.  During this session we will break it down by school district size and possibly region to help you connect with others in the field to see what challenges and obstacles your colleagues have had and how they  overcame.  Come prepared to share what worked (and didn’t work) for you!

The Tools, Joe Beckman, Till360 Consulting

Based off Joe’s keynote presentation, “The Tools” is a nuts and bolts workshop that will equip participants with specific activities, practices, and tools around personal growth, and leadership development.  Bring a pen, bring a notebook, and bring a folder because you’re going to be walking away with some “tools!”


Growing the Farm to School Movement, Jeannie Allgood & Kaitlyn Scheuermann, Waukee CSD

With a passion for providing healthy food opportunities to the rapidly increasing student population while also supporting the local community, the Waukee Community School District collaborated with the local health department to apply for a Farm to School Planning Grant from the United States Department of Agriculture and was awarded funding in June of 2018. Through this opportunity, the Waukee Nutrition led the development of a Farm to School program that includes local food procurement, nutrition education, and hands-on agricultural opportunities for students. In this session, participants will learn best practices, brainstorm ideas for growing the farm to school movement in their own organizations, and leave the session with

tangible tools and resources to support local food procurement and nutrition education,

whether they are just beginning or already engaged in the farm to school movement.

Jeannie Allgood is the Director of Nutrition Services for the Waukee Community School

District. She has more than 25 years of experience in school Nutrition Services and is

actively involved in many boards and committees to promote the health and wellness of

students and staff. Jeannie oversees the District’s USDA Farm to School Planning grant,

ensuring that the Farm to School Program aligns with the District’s policies and priorities.

Kaitlyn Scheuermann has been the Registered Dietitian for the Waukee Community

School District since 2016. In her role, she develops menus for all K-12 buildings, assists

families with special diet accommodations, facilitates their USDA Farm to School grant

and Farm to School programming, and coordinates the district’s Wellness Committee that

upholds the local wellness policy. Kaitlyn holds Bachelor’s degrees in Dietetics and Family

and Consumer Sciences Education and a Masters of Professional Practice in Dietetics

degree, all from Iowa State University. Farm to School is Kaitlyn’s favorite part of her role

because it gives students the opportunity to learn where their food comes from, builds

support and buy-in for school nutrition programs, and provides a unique way to teach

nutrition and wellness habits to students.

The Power in Your Story, Mandy Vincent, Lewis Central CSD, SNA Iowa President

In this session Mandy will share how connecting with your employees, parents, and

students, as well as your history make you who you are today.  When you acknowledge

and share, you change the world.  Students see that they are okay and they are not

alone.  Public connection makes your day and the lives of others better.  

Mandy Vincent, a wife, mother , and mimi.  Mandy is the assistant director at Lewis

Central Community Schools and has served in school nutrition for the past 15 years.  She

says her life is been nothing close to boring!  She has survived, conquered, and come out

smiling - so many times and has learned the power of her story and how it helps change

the world.


Secrets to a Well Run (Efficient) Kitchen, Mike Burke, Vulcan FEG

Learn how to keep your food service equipment running at peak performance. You will be guided through the process of fixing the headaches that can prevent our operation from running smoothly and find out how preventive maintenance can extend the life of your equipment and have an impact on your food preparation and budget.


Mike Burke is the National K-12 Ambassador for Vulcan FEG.  He is responsible for sales

and marketing for Vulcan Cooking and Heated Holding in the US K12 School Market, a

position he has held since 2013.  Previously, Mike was the product manager for the steam

cooking division of ITW Food Equipment Group.  During his 15 years as the product

manager, Mike played the role as the “voice of the customer” for the redesign of the steam

cooking platform.  Mike is active in School Nutrition Association (SNA) and currently sits

on the following Boards: School Nutrition Foundation (SNF) and SNA Political Action

Committee (PAC). Attended SNA National Legislative Action Conference (LAC) in

Washington, as well as many states legislative conference, to brief congressional staff on

the importance of school nutrition. Mike is also a member of School Nutrition Association

Procurement Ethics and Block Grant Prevention Taskforces. During ANC2017 Mike was

recognized by his peers as the Industry Member of the Year. 

Fast Scratch Cooking With Commodity Foods, Willow Kriegel, West Des Moines CSD, SNA Iowa President-Elect

This presentation will demonstrate fast scratch cooking techniques to combine multiple commodity food items available in the state of Iowa into standardized recipes that can be used in your school

nutrition programs. Criteria for recipes will be 5 ingredients or less and at least 3 of 5

items coming from the commodity foods list. Participants will gain understanding and

knowledge related to standardizing recipes, learn some tricks to make fast scratch cooking

available with minimal labor. All recipes demonstrated will be provided to participants.

Willow Kriegel, Our current SNAI President-Elect is a Registered Dietitian and serves as

the Director of Nutrition for West Des Moines Community School District. She has over 20

years experience in School Nutrition Programs with a passion for serving healthy school

meals utilizing the resources provided by the USDA commodity programs.

Operations, Irma Gonzalez, JTM Food Group

This workshop will show the benefits of USDA Donated foods (Brown Box) as well as

further processed donated foods using standardized recipes to streamline your operation.

In doing so you will develop consistency and efficient utilization of products and staff. This

workshop will be an interactive experience so bring your questions!

Irma Gonzalas is one of JTM’s Corporate Chefs and has been on staff for over 5 years.

She is a graduate of Sullivan University with a degree in Culinary Arts Management.

Before joining JTM she worked in fine dining at Country Clubs as well as restaurants and

catering. She joined JTM to further her knowledge and experience in all spectrums of

the business.

Difficult Conversations 2.0, Stephanie Hawkins, Fairfield CSD, SNA Iowa Secretary-Treasurer 

Difficult Conversations- The conversations no one wants to have and regret when we don’t. Have you ever had a time when you knew you needed to have a conversation with someone that would be difficult?  Are there conversations you need to have with your staff, co-workers, friends or family that you have put off, thinking that the problem would just go away? How did that work for you?  How much time and stress could be saved if you had the difficult conversation? Difficult Conversations 2.0:  Participants will walk away from this breakout session with the tools to have those difficult conversations.  And learn that by having difficult conversations early, it will improve your life in your workplace, community and family.  Life can be less stressful one difficult

conversation at a time. 

A self-described, rebel with a cause, ”waging war on mediocrity in school food service”,

Stephanie Hawkins is the Food and Nutrition Services Director at Fairfield Community

School District. She is committed to ending childhood hunger. Stephanie provides the

platform for her team to rise to their potential and counts it a privilege to work with such an

amazing team.  Stephanie has developed a unique perspective when it comes to feeding

children and developing leaders and fostering growth within her team. Influenced by her

mentor and peers, she aspires to share her passion for school food service and inspire

positive change in District food service programs statewide.

Iowa Commodity Group Panel, Iowa Commodity Groups

Food is something to celebrate! It nourishes and entertains; it’s the centerpiece of family traditions. But how it’s grown and raised is not without question – especially if you’re one of the 98% of Americans who don’t farm. During this session, a farmer panel will welcome your questions about modern agriculture. From sustainability practices to learning about animal care, no question is off the table for this interactive discussion. Our goal is to give you the insights and connections you need to feel confident in the food on your plate.

Developing a Special Diet Procedure to Include all Stakeholders, Anita Turczynski, Des Moines Public

Participants will learn the requirements of meeting special diets for a variety of allergens and medical conditions for School Meals in the School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program.  Discussion will focus on  the importance of collaboration with the student, parent, nurse, and food and nutrition team.  We will look at the processes and tools we have developed and use for Des Moines Public Schools to meet the needs of a diverse population.


Anita Turczynski earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Dietetics from Iowa State University

with her most recent experience at Des Moines Public Schools as a Food Service Dietitian.  

She has learned that being open to new challenges and keeping doors open can lead to

exciting opportunities.  Her combined food service management experience with ISU

Dining and her work in the community setting at the YMCA set her up to work in school

nutrition.  As a Food Service Dietitian, Anita works with special diets, teaches nutrition

classes with Pick a better snack, and helps manage Early Childhood Nutrition Programs.  

She loves school lunch and finds success when she gets one more student to try a new

fruit or vegetable!  Her favorite foods are blackberries and chocolate peanut butter bars

and enjoys sharing them with her three awesome kids, Luke, Max, and Ruth.

USDA Foods Recap and Disaster Feeding, Sarah White, Iowa Department of Education

This will be a discussion about USDA Foods in general, updates and recap on the three

options Direct Distribution, DoD Fresh, and Diverted Foods. Then discussion about

Disaster Feeding with USDA Foods. The how, when, and why SFAs can use their USDA

Foods for disaster feeding in their communities.


Sarah White is the USDA Foods consultant for the Iowa Department of Education. She

has been with the Bureau for 8 and a half years now. Sarah received a MS in Education

from Iowa State University and previously taught Science at the secondary level. Sarah

enjoys baking, a variety of needle crafts, and has expanded her gardening efforts this

past year.

Making It Happen! - School Nutrition Success Stories, Carrie Scheidel, Iowa Department of Education

School nutrition programs have adapted the delivery of meals to meet safety protocols and align with school operations while meeting USDA requirements. School meals play an important role for many children and families, easing the financial strain and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus and

providing a comforting source of consistency for students. School meals are essential

to student success and well-being. With collaboration and planning,meals can work for

everyone. Hear school nutrition best practices across the state.


Carrie Scheidel is a Consultant for the Bureau of Nutrition and Health Services at the

Iowa Department of Education. Carrie has been working with the Bureau for 11 years

with the primary role as grant director for a USDA Team Nutrition and Farm to School

Grants that supports Child Nutrition Programs through training, technical assistance,

and resource development.

Strengthening “Malnourished Partnerships”, Alfonso Perez, King Elementary School & Tami Nielsen, Food Bank of Iowa

Food Banks, Food Rescue, and Food Nutrition Initiatives are the number one partnership in a community.  Not a debate.  How do the silos of community engage in supporting Food Nutrition and Delivery Systems, especially in a time of unknown circumstances.  Last year taught us to be prepared to partner, package and deliver in crisis.  We will talk about the power of those partnerships, how to look at culturally proficient menus in an ethnically diverse community.  Raising funding for food.  What works & what doesn’t work:  School Pantries, Community Pantries, and Food Rescue. We also will have Q & A at the end of this session.

Al Perez has nearly 30 years of ministry and community leadership. He sits on several city

and county boards & state commissions and also an advisor to the city of Des Moines on

Urban Community Development. He is founder of Help DSM; a community faith based

development group reaching into the 7 spheres of culture that shape a city. Rev. Alfonso

is a leader in the Latino community, having served on the Governor’s Commission of Latino

Affairs, in addition to the Governor’s Focus Committee on Criminal Justice Reform. Al’s

current position is as the Community Site Coordinator for King Elementary Public School.

Tami serves as the Vice President of Partners and Programs and has been with the Food

Bank of Iowa since November 2016. Tami oversees the SNAP Outreach Coordinator,

Regional Partnership Coordinator team, the Food Acquisition team and the Operations

Manager. She is responsible for  distribution for all programs and partners including

community meal sites, churches, mobile and school pantries, backpack schools, senior

meal sites, daycares, homeless shelters and rehab sites—who then distribute food to

children, seniors, veterans and hard-working Iowans. Food Bank of Iowa provides food to

pantries, schools, and social service organizations in 55 counties, covering big cities and

small towns across 30,000 square miles.  Tami has a B.S. in psychology from Iowa

State University. 

First Timers, Lori King, Boone CSD, SNA Iowa Region IV Chair

This First Timers session will be about making the most of your first time attending State

Conference. We will talk through networking opportunities and how to enjoy your

experience at EAT,LOVE,PLAY.

Lori has been with Boone School Nutrition Department for 21 years and has been Director

for 7 years and serves on the SNA Iowa board as Region IV Chair.  Lori loves feeding the

kids and the relationships that brings with the students and families. She enjoys mentoring

new directors and is willing to help anyone. In her spare time Lori enjoys her

grandchildren, following her kids to Rodeo’s and gardening.

Flipping Behavior, Curt Slater, Till360 Consulting

Are you looking for strategies to deal with unwanted student behavior? In this session we will look at functions of behaviors and how to help support students that are having a negative impact on the culture of the lunch area. 

Team Work Makes the Dream Work, Billie Veach, Nevada CSD, SNA Iowa Vice-President 

This training will be focused on the role of the school nutrition team and the skills needed

to achieve department goals.

Billie has over 30 years of experience specializing in Food Service Management,

Program Development and Leadership Training.  After 15 years of working in Restaurant

Management she found her calling in School Nutrition. Billie has worked in School

Nutrition the past 20 years and is currently the Food Service Director for Nevada

Community School District. 

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