By: Jessica Glosson, B.S.
Didn’t manage to make it to FNCE this year? No worries, I’ve got you covered. I packed my carry-on as light as I could October 13th and jetted off to Boston, the location for this year’s nationally attended Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE). While the initial cost of attending and traveling to the conference may seem like a daunting barrier, I promise it’s well worth it. The ability to network with RDNs, nutrition-related companies, and other students, educators, and speakers from across the United States is an invaluable opportunity you ought to experience. The location for the conference changes each year; last year’s FNCE was held in Nashville and 2017’s FNCE is scheduled to take place in Chicago (in case you want to start planning!). My objectives for attending this year’s conference were fueled by the great experience I had at my first FNCE last year and my desire to network more efficiently with professionals based in the northeast. I’d also be lying if I said that the Boston location wasn’t a major driving factor as well. Boston is an bustling city full of history, charming character, and amazing food; you don’t have to wander far to find fresh seafood and great atmosphere. Wanderlust musings aside, FNCE was hosted this year at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, which is located in the Seaport District within close proximity to historic sites such as the Old North Church and the Boston Tea Party Museum.
FNCE lasted 4 days, all of which were jam-packed with special events, lectures, socials, and of course, a grand expo. RDNs are drawn to the event for networking opportunities and the ability to earn in-person CEUs from attending certain lectures and educational workshops. Undergraduate students and interns attend the conference as well to present research, network with internship programs, and meet dietetic professionals who currently practice in the field. Here’s a recap of some of the major events I attending throughout my time in Boston and at FNCE!
1. The Grand Expo:
The Grand Expo took place Sunday through Tuesday during FNCE from 9:00 am-2:00 pm. This well-attended event featured booths from over 400 nutrition-related vendors that each offered promotional materials, samples, and literature on respective products, brands, or services. Popular booths included Chobani, PepsiCo, Abbott, and the Hass Avocado Board. A complete list of the participating vendors can be found through the FNCE website at: http://s19.a2zinc.net/clients/Academy/FNCE2016/Public/Exhibitors.aspx.
This portion of the conference is what I was most looking forward to; I love the chance to learn about new food products, network with companies and their brand reps, and of course…get free stuff! Here’s a pro-tip for all of you who are considering FNCE for next year: bring an empty duffle bag to check in on your flight home (you’ll thank me later). Seriously though, the amount of free samples, coupons, and products you get from attending the expo is insane. Also, you’ll save money on breakfast and lunch during these days; the Chobani booth gave out full size yogurts, smoothies, and freshly prepared dishes and the Quaker oats booth within the PepsiCo complex offered a “make your own” oatmeal station. This year I noticed that many vendors featured fun photo booths for participants to take pictures in and share to social media. I was also pleased to receive high-valued coupons for products I normally purchase on a weekly basis, such as Silk Almond Milk and Siggi’s yogurt. Some of my personal favorite booths this year were those from the Avocado Association, The Sarcastic Nutritionist, KIND Snacks, and Quaker Oats (I got a free mason jar and recipe list for overnight oats!). Unfortunately, I had to limit myself on the free loot I was able to take back home on my return flight– you can only cram so much into one suitcase (pretty sure security thought I was some sort of weird food-hoarder).
2. Free Book Signing with Katie Cavuto:
Shortly after entering the convention center on Sunday (the second day of FNCE), I was handed a flyer that was good for a free signed copy of Katie Cavuto’s new cookbook titled “ Whole Cooking and Nutrition“. I was further instructed on the time for her meet and greet and book signing later that morning. Katie Cavuto is an extremely successful and inspirational dietitian. I had in fact met her earlier in the year at the Today’s Dietitian annual symposium in Orlando; she gave a lecture on intuitive eating that I found to be very thought provoking. In addition to being an author and a chef, Katie is the official dietitian for the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team and Flyers hockey team! At FNCE, the first 200 people in line for Katie’s book signing received a free copy of her new book and got the chance to briefly speak with Katie and have their book personally signed by her. The book lists evidence-based information on intuitive eating, macronutrients, and every day “superfoods” along with over 40 different nutrient-dense recipes that I’m very eager to experiment with.
3. Educational Sessions:
I was lucky enough to catch a portion of the educational session “Ethical Dilemmas on Recommending Supplements and Over-The-Counter Medications” by RDNs Kathryn Hamilton and Kelly Leonard. The objectives of this session included analyzing the decision criteria used by RDs in practice for recommending supplements to patients and evaluating ethical dilemmas that could arise with patient use of supplements. The presentation discussed an RDs scope of practice in application to supplement use and recommendation, gave several scenarios detailing ethical dilemmas with supplement use or recommendation for different patient populations, and concluded with several major points concerning ethical and legal considerations on the subject. I found this session to be very interesting and applicable to my future practice as an RD. Although I was not able to attend the full duration of the session, I was able to download the corresponding slides for the lecture from my smartphone via the FNCE website. This is a feature of the conference that is truly fantastic. If you’re not able to attend a session or wish to have a copy of a presenter’s lecture slides or reference list, the FNCE website offers pdf and word formatted handouts for each session offered at the conference!
In summary, FNCE 2016 was a great experience hosted in a fantastic location. As previously mentioned, this conference experience offers many benefits to dietetic students, interns, and practicing professionals alike. The exposure to new products, ability to sample trending food and beverage items, and opportunity to learn from and network with some of the most influential RDNs within the country is invaluable. I hope to see you next year in the windy city of Chicago for FNCE 2017!