SALAMANCA, N.Y. — As the start of a new school year soon approaches, many school food service directors are still challenged with meeting the recent major changes in nutritional guidelines for school lunch and breakfast programs. Schools also face increasing financial pressures in managing their food service programs as many of the new nutritional guidelines require specific ingredient components that commercial vendors haven’t yet aligned with the new suggested unit or portion sizes.

Getting the right balance of nutrition, taste and cost can be extremely challenging even in the best of situations, and oftentimes school food service staff and business administrators are left with little time or additional resources to develop new recipes that will appeal to kids’ tastes, plan creative food and meal options, or to network among their professional peers for ongoing development and learning exchanges.

To foster networking among regional school food service staff and to establish an opportunity for learning and knowledge exchange for food service and school administrative personnel, a full-day comprehensive food service conference is planned for Thursday, Aug. 21 at Holiday Valley Resort in Ellicottville. The conference is free to attend and food service mangers, food service staff and administrators from schools located in Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Allegany Counties and the greater Western NY region are encouraged to attend.

Two separate tracks will provide attendees with 3.5 Continuing Educational Units and will feature multiple national and regional presenters.

Track 1, “Food Service Boot Camp 101,” is designed for all food service staff and provides an intensive knowledge exchange workshop with the most up-to-date information on food service program best practices.

Track 2, “Gaining Efficiencies in Financial Management, Marketing, and Nutritional Planning,” is designed for food service managers, directors and school administration and will provide an integrated look at overall program improvements.

A highlight of the conference will be a lunch food show featuring over 15 sampling stations presented by the top food suppliers to schools.

Carey Skelton, a registered dietician from Jamestown, has worked intensively for the last six months with many schools in Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties, focusing on professional development needs, new menu plans, recipe development and food procurement policy. She has also initiated the development of a possible peer network of regional food service staff and schools.

Attendance is free, but advance registration is required. Register online at Southern Tier West’s website at or by calling Kimberly LaMendola at (716) 945-5301, ext. 2211. There is no limit to the number of people attending from one school.