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A Virtual Leadership Series for Foodservice Directors
Available On-Demand
What does foodservice look like at educational institutions this coming fall?

Instead of camps and summer feeding programs, district and college dining programs are using the summer to brainstorm what a revised educational system will be come August. 

This summer, Food Management is bringing together the communities in both colleges & universities and K-12 foodservice for a highly interactive digital forum to share the most timely and insightful best practices as the new school year approaches.

Back to School with Food Management will feature a five-week series of thought-provoking keynote speakers, informative webcasts, segment-specific content, curated digital meet-up events, proprietary research and more.

Virtual Leadership Series
All sessions are 60 minutes and start at 2pm EDT
K-12 College and University
Taking Stock of the Back-to-School Foodservice Environment
Datassential and Food Management present consumer and market data to take a deep dive into how COVID-19 is affecting onsite operations, menu development and more. This session will focus on both K-12 and College & University segments.
Mark Brandau
Group Manager, Datassential

Becky Schilling
Group Content Director,
Food Management

Sponsored by

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Senior Research Director, Omdia
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Available On-Demand
College and University
How to Start a Delivery Program on Your Campus
Delivery has been slow to take off on college campuses, but when the coronavirus hit, many dining services programs realized it was the safest option to provide meals to those students still on campus. In this session we talk with operators on how they started their delivery programs and provide how-to tips on setting up a successful campus dining delivery program.
Peter Testory
Director of Dining and Culinary Services, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Darin Schluep
Director, Associated Students Dining Services, UC Davis
Becky Schilling
Group Content Director,
Food Management
Sponsored by
Available On-Demand

Lunch in the Classroom and Other Service Styles for a New K-12 World

As schools go back into session this fall, child nutrition departments will have to rethink service styles to account for social distancing. This session takes a look at new ways of providing lunches to students, from lunch in the classroom, kiosks and other mobile service ideas.
Laura Benavidez
MBA, Executive Director, Food & Nutrition Services, Boston Public Schools
Michael Rosenberger
MBA, Executive Director, Dallas Independent School District
Mike Buzalka
Executive Features Editor,
Food Management
Sponsored by
Available On-Demand
College and University
What is the Future of the Dining Hall
College dining halls are the hub of campus culture and community, but what happens when a space designed to house hundreds of students is no longer safe in a world where social distancing is necessary? In this session we talk with operators about new service styles, setups and procedures for keeping dining halls safe for students while also maintaining campus community building.
Jill Horst
Executive Director of Campus Dining, UC Santa Barbara
Bryan Varin
Executive Director; Interim Associate Director for Auxiliary Services, University of Georgia
Becky Schilling
Group Content Director,
Food Management
Sponsored by
Available On-Demand
Building Revenue Ideas in a New Normal
When schools closed and went to remote learning, child nutrition departments had to pivot to mobile service styles like pickup in bus lanes. But for most districts, they are serving fewer meals, receiving less reimbursement and realizing higher costs. That perfect storm has caused huge financial losses for many districts. This session will highlight new revenue-building ideas to help make up that shortfalls while continuing to service students in a new post COVID-world.
Lora Gilbert
MS, RD, SNS, Sr. Director, Food and Nutrition Services, Orange County Public Schools
Rodney K. Taylor
Director Food & Nutrition Services, Fairfax County Public Schools
Mike Buzalka
Executive Features Editor,
Food Management
Sponsored by
Available On-Demand
College and University
New Menus to Fit a Changing Landscape
Will grab and go stay? What about special diets, allergen-free meals and all those over-the-top events? In this session we delve into the ways operators are shifting menus to fit into a world where social distancing is king and dining patterns have changed to fit a quarantined lifestyle.
Ryan Nagby
Senior Culinary Manager, UC Riverside
Lesa Holford
Corporate Executive Chef, Ohio State University
Tara Fitzpatrick
Senior Editor, Food Management
Sponsored by
Available On-Demand
Menu Development Ideas
From tight budgets, short service time frames and USDA regs, child nutrition departments have a full plate on their hands when it comes to crafting menus. Add in a dash of coronavirus, and menu development takes on a whole new challenge. In this session, child nutrition professionals share their tips for menu ideas kids will love in this new post-COVID world.
Kara Sample
Assistant Director of Programs, Greely Schools
Juan Zamarano
San Diego Schools
Tara Fitzpatrick
Senior Editor, Food Management
Sponsored by
Available On-Demand
College and University
A Look to the Future
Research conducted by Food Management reveals insights from C&U foodservice leaders on changes, new ideas and strategies for dining services programs when colleges return this fall.
Mike Buzalka
Executive Features Editor,
Food Management
Becky Schilling
Group Content Director,
Food Management
Sponsored by
Available On-Demand


Available On-Demand

Taking Stock of the Back-to-School Foodservice Environment

Datassential and Food Management present consumer and market data to take a deep dive into how COVID-19 is affecting onsite operations, menu development and more. This session will focus on both K-12 and College & University segments.

Sponsored by: Bush’s Best

Becky Schilling, Group Content Director, Food Management

Becky Schilling is Food Management’s editor-in-chief, and the group content director for Informa’s Restaurants and Food Group, managing editorial for digital, print and events for Nation’s Restaurant News, Restaurant Hospitality, Food Management and Supermarket News media brands. Becky holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas A&M University and a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Before joining Food Management in 2014, Becky was with FoodService Director magazine for seven years, the last two as editor-in-chief. Becky is a history nerd and a sports fanatic, especially college football—Gig’em Ags—and tennis. A born and raised Texan, Becky currently resides in New York City.

Tara Fitzpatrick, Senior Editor, Food Management magazine, Restaurant Hospitality and Nation’s Restaurant News

Tara Fitzpatrick is senior editor at Food Management magazine, Restaurant Hospitality and Nation’s Restaurant News. She’s been writing full time for the group for 12 years and prior to that worked as a newspaper reporter. A Lorain, Ohio, native, Tara’s areas of interest include food trends, cooking techniques, food history, true-blue barbecue, folklore, science, sustainability, ghost stories and more.

Mike Buzalka, Executive Features Editor, Food Management

Mike Buzalka is executive features editor of Food Management and has served the magazine in this capacity since 1998. Before that, he was executive editor of The Foodservice Distributor magazine. Mike covers news, operations, management and supply chain issues for the magazine.

Peter Testory, Director of Dining and Culinary Services, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Peter Testory is the Director of Dining and Culinary Services-Housing Division at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While Testory has been in this role for three years, he has been in the foodservice industry for the past 28 years. During this time, he has worked primarily in higher education, but spent the early years of his career in private restaurants.

Once he became part of a University team whose focus was on the student residents he knew that this was the place for him, and how he wanted to spend the rest of his career. Starting his higher ed career at the University of Illinois Testory had the opportunity to work many different positions from Production Chef to Unit Manager to Housing Food Stores Manager. Testory spent almost 10 years at the U of I until an opportunity became available at Colorado State University as the Sr. Executive Chef. Testory accepted this opportunity in Fort Collins, CO. Within two years of being at CSU he was promoted to Assistant Director of Support and Culinary Operations. After spending five years at CSU a an opportunity became available at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the rest is history.

While spending the majority of his career on the culinary side of things, Testory has officially left his chef coat in the past. Today Testory oversees a Dining program that has 6 ala carte dining locations, 3 full service coffee shops, 3 convenient stores, autonomous vehicle delivery program, cook/chill and central production facility, 140 full time staff, catering, 500+ student employees, and just over $30 million in annual revenue. In 2018 Testory was named by Foodservice Equipment & Supply magazine as one of the future leaders of the foodservice industry, and he could not be more excited about what the future of foodservice holds.

Jill Horst, Executive Director of Campus Dining, UC Santa Barbara

Jill Horst is the Executive Director of Campus Dining at UC Santa Barbara, bringing over 30 years of experience, vision, and leadership to the field of collegiate foodservice. In her role, she oversees four dining commons, Special Events Catering, UCen Catering, Concessions, a 150-seat restaurant within the Club & Guest House, the Miramar Food pantry, and 23 retail units. The 240 FTE employees and 1,000 student employees within Campus Dining serve 19,000 customers per day in the retail and board program. Her focus on the customer experience, sustainability, innovation, and continuous growth have earned the campus numerous awards, including LEED Platinum Certification for Portola Dining Commons and the Tenaya Market & Eatery. Her contribution to the concept, innovation, and design of dining units on campus have been recognized in the National Association of College and University Food Service (NACUFS) issue of Campus Dining Today, as well as in the Foodservice Director Magazine’s Foodservice Operation of the Month. Other accolades include the 2020 Management Excellence Award-Noncommercial, Foodservice Director of the Month, the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge Award, and the NACUFS Bronze Sustainability Award for Procurement Practices. Under her direction, UCSB has not only met, but far surpassed the UC goal of 20% sustainable food purchases by 2020. Her drive for sustainable practices has led to many other contributions to the campus, including the newly-implemented Food Recovery Program, where food items that would otherwise be composted from the dining commons are packaged and sent to the Miramar Food Pantry to support food-insecure students. This program was highlighted at last year’s California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC), during which UCSB was awarded for their efforts in sustainable food service. She has also implemented the Swipes for Us program, where students with meal plans can donate unused meals to other students in need. In addition, she has collaborated with the Financial Aid Crisis Team to provide meal plan scholarships and meal vouchers for students who need them. She brings her passion to serve others to her roles advising on various committees over the years, including NACUFS Sustainability Awards judge, member of the National Restaurant Association’s Non-Commercial Advisory Board, member of the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative, and member of the IFMA College & University Executive Committee.

Darin Schluep, Director, Associated Students Dining Services, UC Davis

Darin Schluep is the Director of Associated Students Dining Services at UC Davis, where he oversees a self-branded quick-service retail portfolio conducting over 10,000 transactions per day. As a unit of the Associated Students of UC Davis (ASUCD), the AS Dining operations have been directed since their inception in 1968 to utilize a uniquely student-driven foodservice model, with over 450 student employees, supervisors and student managers doing all of the food preparation, service and cashiering with only 7 full-time staff overseeing operations.

Darin started as a student kitchen employee his sophomore year at UC Davis, and spent time as a student supervisor and student manager before being hired as a full-time manager upon receiving his degree in 2000. He then spent 7 years as the Kitchen Manager, 4 years as the Front-of-House Manager, and has now been the Director since 2012.

Lora Gilbert, MS,RD,LD, FADA, SNS

OCPS School Food and Nutrition Services, Sr. Director, Orange County Public Schools
MS in Human Nutrition, Kansas State University, Registered Dietitian, Fellow of the American Dietetic Association, School Nutrition Specialist

Facts about OCPS Food and Nutrition Services
7th largest district in the nation
1,624 Food Service Employees
42 Million meals served in FY19, 1 million meals every 5 days
30% increase in meals served in the last 5 years

Silver Plate Award, National Restaurant Association
Orlando Sentinel Culinary Hall of Fame, for changing the way children eat
Florida Sterling Sustaining Leadership Award, 2017
Florida Sterling Leadership Award, 2014
Ten USDA Best Practice Awards 2008 – current
Distinguished Dietitian of the Year, Kansas 1998

Work History
2002 – current, Sr. Director, Food and Nutrition Services, OCPS
1992 – 2002 Corporate Nutritionist, Schwans Sales Enterprises

Rodney K. Taylor, Director Food & Nutrition Services, Fairfax County Public Schools

Rodney Taylor is the Director of Food and Nutrition Services with Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), in Fairfax, Virginia. FCPS is the 10th largest school district in the country with 188,000 students at 184 school sites. The nutrition service department serves 139,000 meals per day. The department employs 3,500 employees and has an operation budget of 21 million dollars.

Kara Sample, Assistant Director of Programs, Greely Schools

Kara Sample is the Assistant Director of Nutrition Services for Greeley-Evans Weld County School District 6 in Colorado. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and School Nutrition Specialist. She also serves as the current President for the Colorado School Nutrition Association.

Kara has dedicated her entire career, of 15 years, to school nutrition. She is hugely passionate about ensuring that nutrition and wellness are priorities for our youngest customers.

Kara places great focus on how local foods, scratch cooking and innovative culinary practices can have a beneficial impact on the lives of our future generations. Kara’s biggest inspiration is her six-year-old daughter who is certainly an adventurous eater.

Laura Benavidez, MBA, Executive Director, Food & Nutrition Services, Boston Public Schools

Laura Benavidez, MBA has been the executive director of food and nutrition services of Boston Public Schools since August 2016. Laura was formerly with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), where she was the interim co-director. She oversaw the operations and logistics for LAUSD, the second largest school district in the country with more than 560,000 students, 700 schools, 1,100 meal programs, and over 4,000 foodservices employees. Laura earned her bachelor of science in food science and technology, and master of business administration. She is currently pursuing a doctorate degree.Since starting at BPS’ Food and Nutrition Services department, her focus has been to be fiscally sustainable, decrease waste, increase technology, and build the culture of the program. (Dorchester, MA) @BostonSchools, @LauraBen74

Michael Rosenberger, MBA, Executive Director, Dallas Independent School District

Michael Rosenberger, MBA, currently serves as Executive Director, Food and Child Nutrition Services (FCNS), for the Dallas Independent School District (DISD). With an enrollment of approx. 155,000 students, Dallas ISD is the second largest district in Texas and is among the largest public school districts in the United States. In January 2019, FCNS achieved a historic milestone – for the first time in district history, the department earned a perfect Administrative Review. In doing do, DISD became the largest district in Texas to ever achieve this level of accomplishment. Both nationally and within Texas, FCNS is recognized by several non-profit agencies as a “top ten” department in terms of student participation and meal quality.

Dallas ISD’s FCNS has an unrelenting focus on boosting student achievement through the service of high-quality, delicious and nutritious meals. Department nutrition standards are in many areas more rigorous than federal and state regulations. Menus feature abundant local products, including fresh fruits and vegetables. Innovative programs include an initiative to provide meals to students over district holidays, an outreach program to provide meals to homeless students, and a monthly program that introduces a new fruit or vegetable to students throughout the district.

Rosenberger serves as Chairman of the Board of the Urban School Food Alliance (USFA), a non-profit entity consisting of twelve of the largest urban school districts in the United States, leveraging their buying power and influence to positively and sustainably improve food at school for all students.

Prior to coming to Dallas, Mr. Rosenberger was the Director of Food & Nutrition Services (F&NS) for the Irving Independent School District. During his 16 years of service with Irving ISD, the food and nutrition services department was recognized both in Texas, and across the country, as a leading school food service organization. Mr. Rosenberger is a FAME “Rising Star” designee and Food Management magazine’s K-12 Innovator of the Year, among other awards and recognitions. Mr. Rosenberger earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, with a major in Marketing, from the University of Houston. He later earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Houston.

Bryan Varin, Executive Director; Interim Associate Director for Auxiliary Services, University of Georgia

Bryan Varin serves as the Executive Director of Dining Services at the University of Georgia. In addition to his current role, he also provides interim support to Auxiliary Services as the Associate Director to the division’s Human Resources and Marketing teams. Varin came to UGA in 2002 and has held numerous positions within Dining Services including chef for Campus Catering and Snelling Dining Commons, unit manager, assistant and associate director. Established in 1806, UGA Dining Services voluntary meal plan program consists of five residential dining commons in addition to more than twenty branded and self-branded retail restaurants, catering, and operations support.

A graduate of New England Culinary Institute and the University of Montevallo, Varin began his career in fine dining restaurants. In 2000, while living Seattle, WA, he accepted a position at the University of Washington. It was at UW that he found his career path in higher education. Despite the challenges of the current environment, Varin foresees a bright future for dining and auxiliary services on college campuses. Auxiliary services play a meaningful role in the educational mission of institutions by providing important support to students, faculty and staff within campus communities. Challenging times present the opportunity to think bigger and find creative solutions to meeting the needs of students, faculty and staff.

Lesa Holford, Corporate Executive Chef, Ohio State University

Lesa Holford credits her foodie parents for encouraging and supporting her culinary career from the very beginning! Her mother’s pantry was the best stocked around – at least east of the Mississippi. She enjoyed free reign of the family kitchen learning to whip up chocolate raspberry cakes, duck a l’orange, and roasted halibut on her own. At 17, she found her Chef mentor at a natural foods restaurant. There, she experienced firsthand the skills, drive and tenacity necessary to succeed in the culinary world. Her mentor eventually inspired and recommended her attendance at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. to get a formal education in culinary arts.

After school, she worked in various restaurant and catering operations. Eventually, she returned to that natural foods where she began as an Executive Chef and helped to establish it as the first Certified Organic retailer in Ohio. She later went on to become the Executive Chef at The University of Akron where she managed university catering and culinary concept development for students. She began to master the skills needed to run a high volume and high demand dining services program all while learning to love it. Her next challenge involved running The Greater Columbus Convention Center where she truly learned to feed up to 15, 000 people.

In 2013, she joined the executive team at The Ohio State University. Today, Lesa is responsible for Dining Services’ overall menu planning, collaboration and research with our suppliers, local food purchasing, and selecting locally sourced foods. Her culinary expertise is constantly bundled with the creativity and analysis required to meet our student populations’ diverse and ever-changing dietary needs and requests. In addition, Lesa builds local vendor relationships with farmers and works towards a more sustainable and transparent food system.

Juan Zamarano, San Diego Schools

I’m the Food Program Specialist for San Diego Unified School District. We are the second largest school district in California. I’m been working in food service for over 30 years oscillating between the Management and the Culinary areas. I’ve work in health-care, outsourced management companies, coffee shops, country clubs, night clibs and owned a catering business for 11 years. I joined the SDUSD team 8 years ago.

Ryan Nagby, Senior Culinary Manager, UC Riverside

Senior Culinary Manager

Burge Diemer, VP of Marketing, The Habit Burger

Burge Diemer recently joined the Habit Burger and Grill as Vice President of Brand Marketing responsible for Product Marketing, the Promotional Calendar, Local Store Marketing and various guest-facing brand initiatives such as Curbside Pick-up.

Prior to joining the Habit Burger, Burge was Vice President of Strategy for Boston Market overseeing Brand Strategy and Third-party Delivery Relationships.

Previously, Burge held various leadership roles at Jack in the Box including Vice President of Product Development leading the company’s most successful product launches.

Mark Brandau , Managing Editor, Datassential

Mark Brandau has spent most of his career researching the food and foodservice industries, first as a reporter and senior editor for Nation’s Restaurant News. He transitioned to market research as Content Manager for Technomic. Following a three-year stint with hotel technology startup Duetto, he returned to the food industry in January 2019 as Managing Editor for the Market Intelligence group at Datassential. Mark leads a small team of researchers tasked with producing Datassential’s Keynote Report series, the Firefly 500 Report, and HotShot Reports. He holds a bachelor of science in journalism degree from Northwestern University and a master of science in journalism from Columbia University.

Speaker Name and Title

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