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School nutrition and dietetics leader to present 41st Shugart Lecture

Thursday, April 2, 2015


MANHATTAN — Penny McConnell, widely recognized as a national leader in school nutrition and dietetics, will present the 41st annual Grace M. Shugart Lecture at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, April 16, on Kansas State University's Manhattan campus.

The lecture in Forum Hall at the K-State Student Union is free and open to the public.

McConnell is director of Food and Nutrition Services for Fairfax County Public Schools, Springfield, Virginia, the 12th largest school district in the nation. Her lecture will be "Navigating the Seas of Change."

"We are so pleased to add Penny McConnell to our long list of extraordinary Shugart lecturers," said Deb Canter, professor in the hospitality management and dietetics department in the College of Human Ecology. "She uses an innovative approach to feeding 186,000 students and senior citizen and day care programs in the district near Washington, D.C., and we are excited that our students will have the opportunity to learn from her."

McConnell says that her office aims to provide students food and nutrition knowledge, skills and values they will need for healthy bodies in an ever-changing global society.

She has been widely honored for her innovative programs and leadership. She operates her Energy Zone program with the philosophy "We talk, serve and teach nutrition." The program has a mascot and its logo adorns all packaging, marketing materials and uniforms, with nutrient and ingredient information available for all customers.

McConnell, a registered dietitian, has been instrumental in promoting student wellness through the 9-5-2-1-0 program; providing nutrition education in the classroom; and offering students a variety of nutritious tasty meal options that reflect the new federal meal patterns. Her program supports School Gardens and participates in the Virginia Farm to School program.

She said the keys to a successful program are innovative attitude, customer focus, positive partnerships and nutrition integrity.

McConnell has provided leadership to developing countries as they establish nutrition-based school food programs and has co-chaired five Global Nutrition forums.

She is a former president of the national School Nutrition Association. Her awards include the Virginia Distinguished Dietitian Award, a Silver Plate Award for Elementary Schools from the International Food Manufacturers Association, the Silver Spirit Fame Award from the School Nutrition Association, and a 2011 Medallion Award from the American Dietetic Association.

She also is an advisory board member for Kansas State University's Center of Excellence for Food Safety Research in Child Nutrition Programs.

The annual Shugart Lecture brings dietitians, food service and hospitality experts to Kansas State University for the enrichment of student curricula and to provide continuing education for practitioners in the field.

Established in 1975, the lecture series honors the late Grace M. Shugart, former department head in the College of Human Ecology and co-author of "Food for Fifty" and "Food Service in Institutions." Shugart helped build the profession of dietetics and institutional management throughout the United States, serving as president of the American Dietetic Association, now the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She also was a Medallion Award winner and received the Marjorie Hulsizer Copher Award, the American Dietetic Association's highest honor.


Deb Canter


College of Human Ecology

Written by

Jane P. Marshall

At a glance

The 41st annual Grace M. Shugart Lecture will be given by Penny McConnell at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, April 16, in Forum Hall at the K-State Student Union.