With spring now in full swing, many of us turn our thoughts and attention to Chicago for that annual rite of passage known as the National Restaurant Association show. Whether you're an operator, manufacturer, distributor or consultant, an industry veteran or just spreading your wings, the focus is on The Windy City for the show that brings our industry together like no other.
What I like best about the NRA Show is how our vast and segmented industry comes together. While each marketplace has its unique qualities and identity, in the end we're all trying to create an experience that makes consumers visit our restaurants, dining facilities, cafeterias, and retail outlets, and make them want to return. The NRA show helps put us on an even playing field, where we all have access to the latest products, can discover the hot trends and innovations, learn from industry experts, and network with the best minds in the business.
Indeed, summer actually begins in May for all of us, which isn't a moment too soon this year as we seek to escape the shackles of a dogged winter season that brought economic uncertainty, rising energy and food prices, and a general erosion of consumer confidence.
McDonald's founder Ray Kroc famously said that “none of us is as good as all of us.” In challenging times like these, the more we pool our intellectual capital and share best practices, the better we will be able to compete in an ever-shifting environment.
As we take measure and temperature of our industry at the NRA, we can transfer that intelligence into practical use in our market channels and individual operations. After May in Chicago, there are numerous key opportunities for us in onsite foodservice to do just that.
In early June, healthcare foodservice professionals will journey to Las Vegas for ASHFSA's (American Society for Healthcare Food Service Administrators) national conference. With the theme “Stay in the Game…by Staying Ahead,” attendees will learn what it takes to stay ahead of the curve. ASHFSA will also celebrate the 25th Anniversary of its Business Partner Exhibits.
Speaking of anniversaries, there is perhaps no bigger commemoration this year than the 50th Anniversary of NACUFS (National Association of College and University Food Services). As if Washington, DC, isn't hot enough in this presidential election year, July is sure to be a scorcher when the NACUFS's “Monumental Times, Golden Moments” Conference bandwagon hits town. Be sure to jump aboard.
Later in July, the SNA (School Nutrition Association) heads to historic Philadelphia for its national conference. With our nation's schools facing enormous challenges on the funding and nutritional fronts, the birthplace of our nation is a fitting location for the revolutionary changes and reforms debated among school foodservice professionals today.
In early September, onsite business dining and management professionals head to the Lone Star State's capital city for SFM's (Society for Foodservice Management) “Cool City, Hot Topics,” followed shortly thereafter in Hot Springs, VA with HFM's (National Society for Healthcare Foodservice Management) 20th Anniversary Conference, “20/20 Extraordinary Vision” for healthcare foodservice innovators.
As summer gives way to fall, it is only fitting that our busy summer season culminates with Food Management's Annual IDEAS Conference. We're back in the world's pre-eminent culinary destination of Las Vegas at the Red Rock Hotel from October 28-30. True to our mission, FM will bring together foodservice professionals from all onsite market channels to learn, to exchange, to recharge, and of course to network.
Our theme, “Food Matters: Adding Value & Creativity to Onsite Foodservice Menus,” will focus on the one topic that unites us all: FOOD! Hope to see you at FM's Ideas Conference and of course at some of our summer agenda stops along the way.