International Fresh Produce Association’s (IFPA) Foodservice Conference scheduled for July 28-29 will have the highest buyer participation in 42 years with over 800 buyers. For the first time, this year’s conference will include a significant group of K-12 school foodservice menu planners, chefs and procurement officials.
“K-12 school buyers are an important and unique group of attendees that we are excited to have joining us at this year’s conference,” said Andrew Marshall, IFPA’s staff liaison for wholesaler-distributor members and team lead for engagement with the K-12 school nutrition community. “These foodservice professionals plan daily menus for the next generation of produce consumers. They want to see new products, talk to growers, fresh-cut processors and distributors and discuss how best to source, serve and promote fresh produce on their menus.”
Every day, 31 million children participate in the National School Lunch Program. Students must be offered a fruit and a vegetable and they are also required to exit the lunch line with a serving of produce on their plate. Nowadays, schools are looking to offer entrée salads, fresh vegetable side-dishes, grab n’ go fruit and veggies and some are returning to self-serve salad bars. In addition, many schools also offer breakfast, in-class fresh fruit and vegetable snacks and an after-school, weekend and summer meal program.
The K-12 attendees at this year’s Foodservice Conference will be attending, not only from school districts in California and local to Monterey, but also from major city K-12 school districts from across the country, as part of the association’s “K-12 School Foodservice Forum” program. Leading sponsors of the Forum include Grimmway Farms, the Healthy Family Project, PRO*ACT and Taylor Farms.
As part of the program, school menu planners will have the opportunity to network with members of the produce industry, tour local farms to better understand how produce gets from field to fork and participate in a debrief that will provide feedback and shared resources to help strengthen the partnerships between the industry and K-12 schools in the future. School attendees will also explore the Expo and participate in foodservice sessions, including the Keynote session with Robert Irvine, as well as the Monterey Bay Live! general session that features leaders such as Bruce Taylor, Michel Nischan and Vincent Huyn.
Registration for the IFPA Foodservice Conference is now open.