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FM Profile: Leah Schmidt, SNS

FM Profile: Leah Schmidt, SNS

President, 2013-2014 School Nutrition Association (SNA)

When I complete my term in office, I will feel I’ve been successful if I have helped other school professionals know how important the work they do every day is.

When I ran for president, I promised I would promote partnerships with allied organizations and others that have common interests in school nutrition in an effort to make SNA’s vision and mission better known.

The SNA project I am most intensely focused on right now working working on those partnerships and efforts to keep school nutrition programs a relevant part of the educational process. We need to be at the table for all of the conversations regarding our programs.

My strongest professional role model?  Answering that is hard—there have been so many. My first director in school nutrition, Betty Culley had a great deal of influence at an early stage in my career. She was also our state association’s executive director  through my term in our state executive leadership.

My first job in foodservice was in sixth grade. Our principal let us help out in support areas when we were caught up in our studies. I chose the cafeteria as my “helping area.” I loved working there.

I think my strongest personality trait is that of being a “relator” (it was my first signature theme on the Gallup Strength Finder).

The best way to improve the image of school nutrition is to educate the public on what school meals actually provide to students.

The favorite dish I cook myself is white chili

Looking ahead 25 years the biggest trend I see facing our segment is a continued emphasis on healthy options and on helping students to eat well.

The most challenging aspect of my job is the same as the best thing about it: each day is different. You may come to work with a plan for the day, but usually things change more than once over the course of that day.

The best professional advice anyone ever gave me was: “Find your passion and work on that.”

People are surprised to find out that I’m a certified  Kansas City Barbecue Society Judge.

The most important book I’ve read recently is “How Winning Works,” by Robyn Benincasa.

If I could pass one piece of legislation, it would be to authorize Universal School Lunch and Breakfast.

The most challenging situation I’ve had to address in my professional career was having to implement a reduction in force for our department even though we were “in the black” (the whole district was required to downsize).  

The most interesting technology I’ve seen recently is the software used to make online meal applications possible. I LOVE it.

If I had to select my last meal on earth, it would be Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad, Crab Legs with Roasted Asparagus, warm Flourless Chocolate Cake with Mixed Berries and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, and a nice white wine.

At a glance

ASSOCIATION: School Nutrition Association (SNA)

No. of Members: 55,000
HQ Address:  SNA 120 Waterfront Street Suite 300, National Harbor, MD 20745
Chief Executive Officer: Patricia Montague, CAE

Phone: (800) 877-8822

MISSION: Educating and empowering members to provide healthy meals to foster an environment where children achieve overall wellness and lifelong success.
Job: Foodservice Director, Hickman Mills C-1 School District (Kansas City, MO)
Education: BS Dietetics and Foodservice Management Saint Mary College Leavenworth, KS

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