May 2017 Print

President's Report

From 2016-2017 NJ SNA President, Dan Witkowski:

I would like to wish all of our members a great end to the 2016-2017 school year. I hope everyone was able to participate in all of the resources that NJSNA had to offer for this year. The 2016-2017 NJSNA conference in November was a great success. We had a great turnout this year. Attendance was at a five year high. NJSNA also held the most trainings in years at no cost to our members. NJSNA has also partnered with allied organizations around NJ that have the same goals we do as school nutrition professionals. A few of them are Advocates for Children of New Jersey and NJ Association of School Business Officials.

The future of NJSNA looks bright! NJSNA will continue to hold the trainings for the 2017-2018 school year. We will be setting the trainings in late June to provide the members with some new topics for the trainings. The 2017-2018 NJSNA conference is deep in the planning stages with the theme being “Boardwalk Empire”. NJSNA is also looking to expand our allied partnerships with other organizations as well for the next year.

In conclusion to  end  this 2016-2017 school year, I would like to thank President-Elect, Warren DeSheilds, Vice President, Dr. Tonya McGill, Executive Director, Janet Hawk, and the whole NJSNA Executive Board for making this year a very successful one for NJSNA and its members. I would also like to welcome the  incoming elected board members and wish them a very successful experience.

Thank you to all members and I hope to see all of you at the NJSNA 2017-2018 Conference!

NJ SNA Updates

Our NJ SNA Leadership team completed a successful SNA Legislative Action Conference in April. Visitations were made to the New Jersey Senators and Congressmen/women to voice our stance for continued federal support and funding for the Child Nutrition Programs. Pictured below are President Dan Witkowski and President-Elect Warren DeShields ready to make their visits!




As the school year quickly comes to a close, NJ SNA officers and incoming leaders attended the SNA Leadership Conference in Baltimore, May 3 - 6.  At this conference, our incoming President Elect (Tonya McGill) and incoming Vice President (Margaret DeBlasi) completed the Future Leaders Program.  Our incoming President Warren DeShields attended the Preparing for the Presidency session, And current President Dan Witkowski and Executive Director Janet Hawk attended the general Leadership Conference sessions. This conference provides direction, assistance, and time for NJ SNA officers to strategize plans for the upcoming 2017-2018 year.  It also affords time for networking with other state associations and learn how they handle association business in their states.  

Below, Margaret and Tonya upon receiving their certificates for completing the Future Leaders Program:



Welcome New Members


Tiffany Allison

Nichol Boothe-Smith

Ryan Dumapit

Lisa Hathaway

Antoniette Isgro

Annette Kienzle

Denise MadRina

Frank Pensallorto

Gisella Piantadosi

Legislative Corner

On the National Level:

SNA has long advocated for more flexibility in the school nutrition standards that came out with the Hunger Free Kids Act in 2010.  At last, USDA has agreed to relax the sodium and whole wheat standards by ordering regulations that relaxes some of these very strict standards, while still keeping the school lunch standards at a very nutritious level:

  • USDA is directed to provide schools with additional options for serving of whole grains
  • States can continue to grant exceptions to schools experiencing hardships in obtaining whole grain rich products that are acceptable to students for the 2017-2018 school year
  • Sodium Target 1 levels will be acceptable for school years 2017 - 2020.
  • USDA is directed to provide schools with the discretion to serve flavored 1% fat milk


  Click here to read the Secretary's proclamation.



A 4013, a bill that proposes to prohibit the use of polystyrene containers in schools, has had no further action since January 2017 when it was voted out of the assembly Environment & Solid Waste Committe and referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

S 2819, the Nourishing Young Minds Initiative Fund, seeks New Jersey to provide funding to provide support to the child food and nutrition progams in the state.  This bill was passed by the Senate, and has gone to the Assembly for consideration.

Awards, Grant Opportunities


NJ SNA is proud to announce the following state award winners for 2017!!

Director of the Year:   Nawal Maroun, Food Service Director for Long Branch School District

Employee of the Year:  Jaime Rojas, School Chef for West New York School District

Both award winners exemplify an outstanding level of excellance and commitment to their school nutrition programs and to the students that they serve each day!  Thank you for all that you do for students in New Jersey!




Sustainable Jersey for Schools is offering schools small grants to fund health and wellness actions:

Thirty $4,000 grants are available to implement specific health and wellness actions in schools. The grant can be used to implement Sustainable Jersey for Schools actions such as: staff wellness programs, asthma friendly schools, healthy food choices, programs to promote physical activity and more.  These grants are open to New Jersey Public Schools that serve students in Middle and High Schools (including K-8 schools).   Application proposals are being accepted through Thursday, June 29, 2017. Visit the grants page on for the link to the online application. Applicants must be registered in the Sustainable Jersey for Schools program which is free and voluntary.




Nutrition Corner

ASPARAGUS is the Harvest of the Month for this issue of the Beacon.

Click here for an Asparagus Fact Sheet.

Click here to access some great asparagus recipes to use in your school - students are sure to like them!  (NOTE:  Each tab on the bottom of the excel workbook takes you to a different recipe)


New Jersey Farm to School

The school year is fast coming to an, did this year fly by fast. However, now we are in the beginning of the Jersey Fresh growing season, so be sure to utilize some of those great locally grown products on your menu.  Click here for a New Jersey grown produce availability chart, so you can see what's available during what period of time!


Visit the Farm to School website for lots of great information on this program to help schools get more locally grown produce into their school meal programs.

Industry Partners

FOR THIS NEWSLETTER, WE WOULD LIKE TO THANK OUR "SILVER" PARTNERS FOR THE 2016-17 YEAR:  (Clicking on the names will take you to the company websites)

General Mills

Advance Pierre

David's Cookies

Idahoan Foods

McCain Foods

Schwan's Foodservice

Trident Seafoods

Appeeling Fruit

Maxwell-McKenney, Inc.

Farmland Dairies

Amazing Fruit Products-US

Hershey's Creamery

Peterson Farms Fresh

National News

Share Your Thoughts: Increasing Verification Response Rate


USDA wants to hear from SNA members and is hosting a challenge around verification response rates. This challenge is an opportunity to take advantage of a national platform to share your success stories and your great ideas on how to increase household response rates in the annual school meals verification process!

Submit a short video clip, write a short story, or maybe a comic strip version of your ideas; submissions of all types are welcome. SNA President Becky Domokos-Bays and FNS Deputy Administrator for Child Nutrition Cindy Long are leading the judging panel, and FNS will highlight the winning submissions at SNA’s 2017 Annual National Conference in Atlanta, Ga.

The Verification Response Rate Challenge is part of a broader effort by FNS, working with SNA members, to test changes in verification materials and communication protocols. Through this joint effort our organizations are making tangible progress to increase verification response rates and reduce the risk of benefit loss by eligible households. We also see this challenge as essential to our combined commitment to improving outcomes and protecting the integrity of the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program.

The challenge runs through June 15th. So, take a few minutes to share your thoughts on how to increase household response rates, and forward this message to your peers around the country whose insights might also prove valuable! Visit for additional details and to submit your ideas.

Summer Feeding

The NJ Food For Thought Campaign, which started as an advocacy group for school breakfast, is now extending it's outreach to help ensure hungry children are fed in the summer.

Tens of thousands of New Jersey children rely on school meals to get the nutrition they need to be healthy and learn. In the summer, these children lack access to those meals and families struggle to put food on the table.

Federal summer meals programs provide a solution to summertime hunger for kids. Communities across New Jersey are increasingly offering free meals to children in the summer at schools, parks, libraries and other places where children congregate. Not only can kids get healthy meals, they also can connect with friends, engage in fun, healthy activities and get some exercise.

Click here to access a summer meals outreach toolkit.