By Julie Stas
Kicking off the new year, the USHBC was a participating sponsor in the 2014 School Nutrition Industry Conference in Miami on January 11-14th. The annual event drew 450 school nutrition professionals from the federal, state and district levels, where they interacted and networked with industry representatives, built upon the latest foodservice and nutrition trends and focused on key issues facing school nutrition professionals today. The USHBC partnered with Jason Morse, executive chef for Douglas County Schools in Colorado, to present a series of three Innovation Stations, participate in a networking event, and host a dinner for directors from major districts. Here are some of the highlights from each project: Innovation Station Chef Jason Morse grabbed attendees’ attention by showcasing blueberries in both a sweet and savory application using a 3-ingredient blueberry sauce. The chef also created a school-friendly Blueberry Maple BBQ Sauce with frozen blueberries served as a dipping sauce for chicken fingers. Attendees walked away from the Innovation Station saying it was the “highlight of the conference” and the featured recipes were “absolutely delicious.” Some said they would order “USDA commodity frozen blueberries on [their] next delivery.” Networking Event The USHBC hosted a highly-trafficked table at the conference providing the opportunity to chat with school nutrition professionals and distribute blueberry information and recipes. Attendees were curious and excited to find out about the versatility blueberries have to offer. Blueberry Advisory Group Dinner Blueberries were the theme at a dinner held at Miami hot spot, Dolores But You Can Call Me Lolita. The dinner was the perfect opportunity to have more one-on-one time with each attendee school district, to learn how they are currently serving blueberries on their menus, and to think about what menu possibilities they have for the future. The night was a hit, and attendees said it was the “best dinner, best restaurant and best crowd from [their] time at SNIC,” and that the featured blueberry dishes were “absolutely delicious” and “fun,” making it a “wonderful time and perfect dinner.” Julie Stas is an Account Executive in the Food & Beverage Practice at PadillaCRT. She currently works on Wines from Rioja, the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission and Asturias Sidras.