ST. CLOUD -- Over 800 school nutrition professionals from districts across the state are in St. Cloud Tuesday sharing their ideas on school meal programs.

The 63rd annual state conference of the Minnesota School Nutrition Association provides insight on the latest trends and challenges school nutrition programs are facing statewide.

MSNA President Amy Thering says one thing they would like to see is more students participating in their breakfast programs.

We've had a lot of lunch participation success but breakfast we really need to reach more kids. Some districts have done great things with breakfast carts to feed not only children who qualify for free or reduce meals but every student who needs to start the day with a healthy breakfast.

Thering says there isn't a lot of new federal nutrition requirements to implement this year. She adds a trend many school districts are moving to is multiple food lines to allow students to choose what they want to eat.

Jayme Steinbach is the Director of Food Service for the Sartell-St. Stephen School District. She says one thing they are trying bring is a more local approach when it comes to their menu.

We are trying to reach out to more farmers and vendors to bring that back to our menus. It's definitely a challenge working it in with budgeting and taste testing, but it's worth it in the end because it offers products other school districts are not offering.

She says what she loves most about the conference is the opportunity to share what's working and listen to others who have either faced similar challenges or implemented new ideas.

The conference will wrap up Wednesday and will be back at the River's Edge Convention Center for the next five years.

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