Technology: Data Sharing & Analytics Initiative
The Big Idea
Operators collect terabytes of data every day from electronic systems driven by the record-keeping required by USDA. Sadly, very little of that data is re-purposed to provide business insights. That’s because the ability to effectively standardize, analyze, and compare data across schools, districts, states, and nationally depends on use of a common language.
The “common language” known as the GDSN (Global Data Synchronization Network) has been widely used for decades within other segments of the foodservice industry. In 2018, new attributes were added to GDSN standards and protocols finally addressing the specialized data needs of the K-12 segment. The Data Sharing & Analytics Initiative, launched by the Technology Work Group, is leveraging GDSN to create a single database of food products to simplify menu planning and a standardized data warehouse of aggregated operating data to provide insights to drive improvements in schools and throughout the supply chain.
Technology Stakeholder Advisory Group
The Technology Stakeholder Advisory Group is guiding the development and testing of this new solution, a Data Exchange, and includes the refinement and publishing of the open data standards. The TSAG is comprised of various stakeholders including, program operators, state agencies, software providers, suppliers and distributors, ag groups, GPOs, and national policy groups. Each member is providing valuable input and feedback by identifying and refining their informational needs while also agreeing to support the “quiet” development period while the Data Exchange is being piloted during 2020 to avoid duplicative splintering efforts. If you would like to join the TSAG, please contact Elizabeth Vegas at firstname.lastname@example.org. The current roster of Stakeholder Advisors includes:
Elizabeth Mitas Vegas, TSAG Chair
Managing Partner & Founder
Elizabeth is Managing Partner & Founder of Commonality. She has over two decades of experience developing and executing strategy and partnerships across the public, private and nonprofit sectors. During her tenure at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Elizabeth worked with leading companies, associations and nonprofits including Amazon Business, the American Beverage Association, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dole, Campbell’s, McDonald’s, Partnership for Healthier America, PepsiCo, the School Nutrition Association, Sodexo and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to launch social commitments and cross-sector partnerships that yielded impactful, transformative outcomes. Previously, as Vice President and co-owner of a small publishing and wholesale distribution company, Elizabeth focused on business development with international publishing houses and supply chain management. Additionally, Elizabeth serves on the Nutrition Advisory Board of the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA). Elizabeth earned her BS in Psychology and BA in English from DePaul University. She lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband, two kids and a dog. She loves a great family adventure and traveling.
Director of Strategic Partnerships
Seven years ago, Dean Alessandrini launched a “K-12 task-force” at the Hubert Company to better understand the challenges associated with K-12 foodservice. As the group began to uncover common goals like “improving breakfast participation”, and “encouraging students to select healthy choices”, Dean spearheaded a design-thinking approach to prototyping, creating, and testing solutions to these challenges. Since the “K-12 team” was established at Hubert, solutions like the Hubert Hallway Breakfast cart, the Hubert Share Station, and Breakfast to Classroom System have launched and become proven industry solutions. Dean has an 8-year old daughter who participates in her school’s meal program in the Cincinnati, OH area. He has developed a real passion for the higher-purpose associated with feeding kids, and helping them to create life-long healthy habits.
National Nutrition Advisor
As a National Nutrition Advisor, Carol provides technical assistance to Healthy Schools and Communities on nutrition, nutrition education, food service management operations and compliance strategies for meeting federal regulations and professional development training for staff in the CN program. Her training topics include but are not limited to nutrition education and integration into curriculum for teachers, marketing and merchandising to prompt students and participants to select the healthiest options offered in school meal programs, customer service and marketing your program to increase revenue and participation and cost controls and safe food handling. Carol previously worked for almost 15 years at Miami-Dade County Public Schools, serving as the Director of Food and Menu Management, overseeing the menu and food procurement, including bids and writing food specifications.
Assistant Director, Nutrition Service Center
Dan is a dynamic leader, speaker, and innovator with over 20 years of leadership experience. He is an Eagle Scout and community volunteer. He is passionate about reacquainting people to their food. He has served at multiple State and National levels within the School Nutrition Association, most recently as President of the Kentucky School Nutrition Association in 2018. As Manager of the central kitchen in Jefferson County Public Schools, he has taken the lead in bringing more clean, local, sustainable foods to the district. He serves on a number of national boards including Kansas State University Center for Food Safety in Child Nutrition and International Food Manufacturers Assoc. K-12 Advisory Board.
Director, Education Sales
Now in her 15th year with JTM, Carole is a graduate of Xavier University. She is currently serving on the ACDA Board as the Industry Representative and attends all SNA national events. “I feel enormously blessed to be working with such a phenomenal team of professionals. We’re dedicated to helping Directors throughout the country redefine the serving line!”
Senior Director, Healthy School Meals Initiative
For over 10 years, Laura has worked with school nutrition leaders, industry stakeholders, and national non-profit organizations to develop solutions to ensure children have access to the healthiest school meals in every zip code across the country. She thrives on partnership and relationship building with the amazing school nutrition professionals who are making change happen on a daily basis. Laura lives in Arlington, VA with her husband and two young sons, who eat school lunch every day at their local elementary school.
Tonya Keyes-Christianson, MA, RDN, LDN
Director of School Food Programs
Tonya Keyes-Christianson is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s degree in Food Science and Nutrition. She has a diverse background of work experience, serving over 13 years in Foodservice Operations through operational management in corporate dining and assisted living communities, and leading quality assurance management in healthcare facilities. Her most recent transition was in September of 2019 to the Arizona Department of Education, Health and Nutrition Division, where she currently works as the Director for the School Food Programs that includes the USDA Foods in Schools Program, Procurement Reviews, Contract Management, and the Farm to School Program. Life balance is important to Tonya. She enjoys traveling to remote areas and spending time outdoors with her husband, kids, and dogs. Tonya is an ultra-endurance trail runner and ultra-endurance triathlete. In her downtime, she takes her motorcycle on joy rides and runs a private nutritional consulting practice.
Director of Food and Nutrition Support and Services
In her current role, Stacy works collaboratively with members and suppliers to grow and drive greater savings and efficiencies within Premier’s portfolio of contracts and solutions. Beyond contracting, Stacy partners with members on menu planning, product innovation and utilization, education & training including food allergies, federal guidelines, and more. Prior to joining Premier, Stacy was a Premier member and corporate dietitian for Knowledge Universe, a leading provider of early education in the USA where she managed the food and nutrition program for more than 1500 centers nationally. Stacy is a Registered Dietician and has a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Management from Oregon State University and master’s degree in Health Promotion & Education for the University of North Texas. She is a Registered Dietitian and has completed the requirements for School Nutrition Specialist (SNS) through the School Nutrition Association.
Laura Trujillo, RD, SNS
Laura began her career in school foodservice as the Director of Food Distribution with the State of Arizona. Where she managed a ten-million-dollar entitlement budget for over 400 school districts in the State of Arizona for two years. She was the Director of Child Nutrition for the Phoenix Elementary School for six years serving breakfast, lunch and snacks to more than 10,000 students each day. As the Non-Commercial Account Manager for Shamrock Foods, she directed five departments including K12, and she also worked for the National Dairy Council as Director of Nutrition Services for the K12 market in Arizona. In her current position, Laura serves as President of Buena Vista Food Products, Inc. where she oversees all aspects of the company leading a team of 175 employees daily focusing on customer service, superior products and building lasting relationships. Laura received her bachelor’s degree in Biology and Nutrition from the University of Arizona and her Post Baccalaureate at Arizona State University in Nutrition and Food Science. She is a Registered Dietitian and a School Nutrition Specialist (SNS).
Food Service Director
Sal has over 25 years of experience in school food service working in self-operated districts in addition to large and small management companies. Sal was instrumental in leading Memorial High School in West New York to achieve Gold level recognition from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program. Sal is the Past President of the New Jersey School Nutrition Association and the recipient of the President’s Award of Excellence as well as both the New Jersey and Northeast Region’s Outstanding Director of the Year award from the State and National School Nutrition Associations. Sal was also recognized as one of 21 outstanding individuals across the nation as a National Champion for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
Director of Marketing, K-12 Channel
Andrew has been with Tyson Foods for 14 years with 9 years on the K-12 team. As the Director of Marketing for Tyson's K-12 Channel, he is excited about helping the K-12 industry feed America’s students great tasting and nutritious food.
Data Exchange Infrastructure
The basic infrastructure of the Data Exchange is in place and many major suppliers are already publishing product data to the Nourish to Flourish (N2F) GDSN data pool. Local dairy councils, state agencies, and school districts have also agreed to participate in the Data Standardization Pilot to test the data collection and reporting protocols using prototype menu planning and production records software that integrates with the Data Exchange. This exchange of standardized data will power the advanced data analytics reporting to help drive improvements throughout the industry. The pilot is currently recruiting additional schools and will be completed by the end of 2020. Enrollment is limited to 1,500 school buildings to build a representative sample of ~1.5% of the national school market.
There is no obligation for pilot schools to continue using the prototype software upon completion of the pilot, although the goal is for the software to remain available to them at no cost. Once the open data standards are published in Q1 2021, access to the Data Exchange will be available to all software providers to integrate into their menu planning and production records applications to benefit all schools nationwide. Any school using Data Exchange-driven menu planning will receive, at no cost, advanced operational reports showing their key performance metrics compared to peer schools. Suppliers will also have access to the advanced reporting features available from the Data Exchange about their products.
Business Model Transparency
Following agreed to protocols with Nourish to Flourish leadership, the Technology Work Group has ensured transparency throughout this evolving four-year process, including the formation of the TSAG to guide the development. Information and progress have been shared regularly through ongoing discussions in dozens of N2F work group conference calls and, more broadly, to stakeholders at industry conferences, in-person meetings, and various publications approved and distributed through N2F’s primary sponsors. Participation in the TSAG continues to be open to all interested stakeholders. Learn more about joining the TSAG by contacting Elizabeth Vegas at email@example.com. More information on the history of the development can be found in the Key Events & Milestones.