Fast-paced Formats and Tech Topics on Tap at 2019 Noncommercial Foodservice Conferences

Tight budgets and organizational policies mean noncommercial foodservice operators typically must be very discerning when choosing what conferences to attend.

Just in time for the kickoff of the noncommercial conference season, FER has scoured through the agendas and interviewed the planners of the summer’s events for college and university, healthcare, K-12, business and industry and correctional foodservice operators.

Many of the 2019 conferences promise faster-paced speaker formats and insights on topics ranging from the design process to sustainability to technology. If purchasing or upgrading kitchen equipment or managing a new build or renovation are top priorities for your operation, here’s what you need to know.


School Nutrition Association Annual National Conference

June 14-16, St. Louis

What's new: Responding to member feedback, SNA has shaved a day off its ANC 2019 conference, but not the exhibit floor schedule. New fast-paced Ideas@Work sessions present live case studies recapping a big idea from concept to implementation; among them, starting a food truck from purchasing and funding to operation, best practices for in-house coffee kiosks (including equipment), and the logistics of aquaponics greenhouses.

SNA also is adding two-hour express workshops to its lineup of preconference training sessions (joining three- to four-hour and full-day options).

Sessions to see: "Redesign Your Line: Ways to Give your Space a Face Lift," "Perfecting Pop-up Concepts: Using Simple Carts and Kiosks to Engage Students in School Meals" and "Employee Safety: Risk Management is a Win-Win."


National Association of College & University Food Services National Conference

July 10-13, Denver

What’s new: New to the NACUFS National Conference this year are what its organizers are calling Micro-Sessions, inspired by the PechaKucha presentation format. These 20-minute, rapid-fire educational sessions offered on the expo floor by NACUFS industry members include "The 4 D's of Robotics" by Ricca Design Studios and "Demystifying the Design Process" by Bakergroup.

Session to see: "Reaching New Heights in Construction Projects: Effective Planning and Cost Management" featuring the team behind Colorado State's $11 million food hall, the Foundry.


Association for Healthcare Foodservice 2019 Annual Conference

August 6-8, Scottsdale, Ariz.

What's new: AHF has introduced a new session format called FISH Talks (Food Innovation Service Hospitality). The first such "talk" will focus on sustainability—including how healthcare foodservice operators can meet sustainability goals and reduce food waste. In addition, AHF continues its preconference sessions focused on innovations; last year tackled culinary innovations, this year it's technology innovations, pairing an overview of the tech trends affecting foodservice with information on the latest offerings from the association’s business partners.

Session to see: "My Dream Kitchen," featuring consultants Rippe Associates and JME Hospitality.

The following noncommercial conferences have fewer finalized sessions dedicated to equipment or kitchen design, but operators interested in these topics may find value in connections made during the event's vendor expos.


Association of Nutrition & Foodservice Professionals AC&E

June 26-29, St. Louis

Attracting foodservice directors in the senior living segment, ANFP's Annual Conference & Expo (ACE) educational program is largely focused on culinary training and foodservice trends, but its vendor expo—which takes place June 27 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.— includes companies specializing in foodservice equipment and supplies and distribution.

Session to see: Expo attendees can earn three food show hours toward maintaining the Certified Dietary Manager (CDM, CFPP) certification. Additionally, completing the Sanitation Scavenger Hunt during the Expo counts as .5 sanitation CE credits.


Association of Correctional Food Service Affiliates Annual International Conference

Sept. 22-25, Memphis, Tenn.

The ACFSA will mark its 50th year as a professional association during this year's annual International Conference and Vendor Showcase at the Guest House across the street from Elvis’ Graceland estate. Vendors and attendees can network during the reception/dinner as well as the vendor expo on Day 2 of the conference.

Sessions to see: Emerging Technologies Panel and Equipment Panel


Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management National Conference

Sept. 17-19, Palm Springs, Calif.

Details still are being finalized for SHFM’s 40th anniversary conference. But the conference theme of "Fueling the Future: Leading Transformation" offers some clues. "All sessions will be of value to [E&S] industry attendees," says Michelle Romero, SHFM director of marketing and sponsorship sales. “Topics will focus on managing transition, change and success in corporate foodservice and workplace hospitality."


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