10 Ways to Market Your School Nutrition Program

A school nutrition marketing plan can promote your team’s exceptional work and support your program’s success by increasing participation and interest from students and rallying support from parents and the local community. Here are 10 simple ways to incorporate effective marketing tactics that will take your school nutrition program to the next level.

  1. Develop a Marketing Strategy: For marketing success, establish a clear plan and timeline for how you will promote your school nutrition program. It’s important to establish which audience to target through each tactic. For example, with students, you will focus on marketing in the lunchroom and for parents and the local community, you can promote important information through newsletters or community events.
  2. Put the Spotlight on Menu Options: If you add new, healthy options to your school menu, make sure to give them the spotlight on the trayline and even showcase the food in more than one place. The Smarter Lunchrooms toolkit, shares that “Offering vegetables in two locations can result in students taking 40% more” and that “Moving fruit from a stainless steel tray to a color fruit bowl can double sales.”

    The Smarter Lunchroom handbook highlights how small changes can promote your menu options to appeal to students and increase sales!

  3. Highlight Menu Items and Nutrition Information with Digital Signage: Displaying digital signage in your lunchroom can help promote menu items and get students buzzing about nutrition. Chef Brendan Gallagher from The Hillside School uses digital signage to connect menu items with their nutritional value. Brendan said, “The way I tie it all in with the menu is if I have minestrone soup which I have on today, then I’ll tie it into let’s say a pinto bean and will talk about the nutrition of a bean” via a lunchroom digital screen.
  4. Conduct Taste Tests to Familiarize Students with New or Current Menu Options: Through taste tests, the Vermont FEED program, staff “…found that by connecting the three C’s (the Classroom, Cafeteria, and Community) taste tests of new food can be successfully carried out in either the classroom, often during snack time, or in the cafeteria during lunch. The most important thing is to make it a hands-on experience for students; “If they make it they will eat it.” Host small taste tests in various classrooms to promote menu options and test out potential new recipes.
  5. Collaborate with Teachers: Gather support from teachers to support school wellness and eat breakfast or lunch with students and discuss the importance of balanced, nutritious food choices. Encourage teachers to reiterate important nutrition messaging in more than just health and physical education classes. They can use math classes to highlight serving sizes and calories calculations or social studies to show cultural diversity in diets and how diets have changed over time.
  6. Organize a Student Food Service Advisory Board: Learn more about the needs and wants of students by gathering students and asking them directly. Create a volunteer Student Advisory Board to test out new menu items, flyer designs, marketing ideas and allow them to gain professional experience to build their resumes. The board members can be an extension of your outreach team and relay new information to their peers.
  7. Launch a “New Menu Item” Contest: As mentioned earlier, if students make a product they are more likely to eat it. Crowdsourcing new menu items from students is a great way to get students involved in your school nutrition program and find new menu options that appeal to and excite students.

    This is one of the USDA Team Nutrition Elementary School posters that you can find online and share in your school.

  8. Decorate with Posters and Colorful Visuals: Encourage students to make healthier food choices at school by using simple, colorful and visually appealing posters and decorations that will catch their attention. The USDA created several posters that you can hang up in your lunchroom.
  9. Spread the Word through Newsletters: Use your school’s current communication line with parents and the community, and highlight new school nutrition program updates in the next newsletter or school newspaper.
  10. Set-up a Booth at Community events: Create a display with sample meals, nutrient analysis, recipes, and cost comparisons at an upcoming parent-teacher conference, community wellness event, neighborhood fair, etc.

The JSI Resource Center also includes many helpful marketing resources that you can utilize for your school nutrition outreach program.

Webster Schools Host Food Allergy Workshop

On Wednesday, September 20, 2017, JSI instructor and registered dietitian Alison Doak presented the Food Allergies Workshop to Go at the Webster Public Schools. The workshop provided an in-depth, interactive lesson for school nutrition staff about food allergies, including life-threatening allergies. Participants learned important warning signs of an allergic reaction, how to identify allergens on a food label, how to make appropriate substitutions, and many other vital pieces of information to integrate into their daily operations.

 

FA8

Shown above is Alison Doak, MS, RDN, LDN, during the Food Allergy workshop.

Key objectives from the workshop include:

  • List the top 8 food allergens
  • Recognize food allergy symptoms
  • Read food labels to identify food allergens
  • Identify allergen-free menu substitutions
  • Differentiate between a food allergy and food intolerance
  • Describe ways to avoid cross contact at school
  • Discuss strategies to create an allergy safe environment at school
  • Identify the steps of an Emergency Response Plan
yogurt

Find those food allergens!

If you would like to schedule a Food Allergy workshop at your school, visit our website to request a JSI Workshops to Go. While there, you can find out about our 12 other workshops, too!

To learn more about food allergies, check out the JSI Resource Center. Additionally, the Managing Life-Threatening Allergies in Schools manual contains a wealth of information regarding food allergies and guidelines to create a multidisciplinary approach for allergies in your schools. In addition, the USDA has just released in 2017 the latest guidance on Accommodating Children with Disabilities in the School Meal Programs.

Enroll in a 4-Week Online Nutrition, Health and Wellness Graduate Course

Be equipped to respond to the latest school nutrition issues by enrolling in a 4-Week Online Nutrition, Health and Wellness Graduate course at Framingham State University. With the convenience of online learning, these courses run from October 2- October 29 and explore key school topics like Diabetes in Schools, Exploring Food Allergies, Linking Physical Activity to Academic Performance, and Eating Disorder Prevention.

The 4-week online Graduate courses for Nutrition, Health and Wellness include:

Diabetes in Schools: An overview of diabetes and its impact in schools for teachers, school nutrition directors, school nurses and other school professionals. Topics addressed in this course include: basic understanding of type 1 and type 2 diabetes; dietary management of diabetes and basic carbohydrate counting; and strategies to create a safe environment for students with diabetes. Participants will explore available resources to promote nutrition, physical activity, and student safety.

More information about the 4-Week Online Nutrition, Health and Wellness Graduate courses at Framingham State University.activity, and student safety.

Exploring Food Allergies: An in-depth review of food allergies for teachers, nurses, and other school personnel. To better understand the issues facing children with these allergies, the course includes: causes, symptoms, diagnostic tools, treatment, prevention, current research and food labeling.

Move More, Learn More: Linking Physical Activity to Academic Performance: An exploration of how movement improves academic performance, classroom behavior, attention span, and the social-emotional development of students. Using evidence-based research, students explore types of physical activities for the classroom and the importance of physical education for students in grades K -12. This course includes strategies for increasing movement in schools with well-designed, effective and sustainable movement opportunities for the classroom and the broader school community.

Preventing Eating Disorders: An overview of how to prevent eating disorders in schools. Topics include: background and statistics on the four diagnosable eating disorders; disordered eating signs and symptoms; the role schools can play in the prevention of eating disorders. Resources and curricula that support healthy body image and media literacy are presented along with other creative ways school staff can incorporate awareness and prevention of eating disorders in schools. The course is intended for teachers, school nurses, school psychologists, and other school professionals.

Each course costs $205 and for those looking for continuing education credits, you can receive 22.5 PDPs for Teachers, 15 PD hours for School Nutrition professionals or 15 CPEUs for Registered Dietitians.

Register online today!

 

Register Today for the 2017-2018 Nuts & Bolts of School Nutrition Programs Continuation Series

The Nuts & Bolts of School Nutrition Programs Continuation Series is back for the 2017-2018 school year!  This training series will provide you with the vital information and skills to improve program operations. Upcoming sessions include both in-person and online trainings covering important topics like Special Dietary Needs, USDA Foods and Inventory Management, Procurement, Afterschool Snack, At-Risk Snack, & Extended Day Snack, Farm to School,  Production Records, Recipes, CN Labels, & Product Formulation Statements and Local Wellness Policies.

Don’t miss out on the upcoming October 26, 2017 in-person session on Special Dietary Needs which will provide an overview of both the newly updated (2017) USDA Accommodating Children with Disabilities in the School Meal Programs and the (2016) Managing Life-Threatening Allergies in Schools manuals. Participants will receive a copy of the Managing Life-Threatening Allergies in Schools manual during the session. Register online by October 12, 2017 to join this session.

Join us on November 15, 2017 for the in-person session on USDA Foods & Inventory Management. This session will provide an in-depth understanding of USDA foods such as DoD Fresh, monthly offer sheets, diversion survey, and making the most of your entitlement dollars. Register online by 11/1/2017 to join this session.

All in-person trainings will be held at Framingham State University from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. All online sessions will take place from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm. The cost is $40 for in-person trainings. Online trainings are FREE. Those who complete seven or more sessions in the series will be recognized at the Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit in May 2018.

Sign-up today for an upcoming session!

Two NEW! Culinary Workshops Add Mediterranean Flavors to Your School’s Menu

Looking for a new culinary workshop or to add a Mediterranean flare to your school menu? Look no further. JSI is excited to offer two NEW! culinary workshops this school year: Back to Basics: Mediterranean Flavors Workshops to Go and an innovative Live-Setting Culinary Training.

The Back to Basics:  Mediterranean Flavors is a 3-hour hands-on Workshop to Go designed to advance the culinary skills of school nutrition staff while they prepare popular Mediterranean recipes your students will love, such as shawarma pita wraps, hummus, tzatziki sauce, and more! School nutrition staff will enhance their culinary skills while exploring how to incorporate Mediterranean flavors into several different meal components designed to be served in the school lunchroom.

We are also pleased to offer Live-Setting Culinary Training to five schools this school year. This innovative training is an option for schools once they have completed the Back to Basic: Mediterranean Flavors workshop, since these same Mediterranean recipes will be prepared and served in the lunchroom in real-time alongside the JSI chef. The Live-Setting concept was successfully piloted at Milton High School in June 2017 and we are thrilled to expand this opportunity to more schools this year.

JSI Chef Brendan Gallagher works alongside Milton High School’s nutrition staff in a Live-Setting Culinary Training in June 2017

This innovative training was created by Chef Kent Getzin to train school foodservice teams in their live working environment during regular food production. With this new training approach, your school nutrition team can produce meals for the day while simultaneously learning valuable new culinary skills.

If you are interested, please make your online request for the Back to Basics: Mediterranean Flavors Workshop to Go. Email us at johnstalker@framingham.edu for more information about the Live-Setting Culinary Training.

“Live-Setting” Culinary Training at Milton High School

On Wednesday, June 14, 2017, JSI Chef Brendan Gallagher led Milton High School’s nutrition staff in a “Live-Setting” Culinary Training. Milton High School was a pilot school for this concept and is the first school to receive a training of this kind from JSI. “Live-Setting” is a training approach created by Chef Kent Getzin in which foodservice teams train in their live working environment during regular production. This approach allows your nutrition program to still produce meals for the day while simultaneously learning skills they can use everyday.

Chef Brendan worked with the staff to prepare a customizable Vietnamese noodle dish called pho and it was a huge hit! The pho contained homemade broth, lo mein noodles, and chicken or pork. Students could further customize their bowls by adding shredded carrots, bok choy, bean sprouts, Thai basil, mint, lime, hoisen sauce, siracha, soy sauce, or fish sauce. All 186 servings were sold over 3 lunches and the students loved it! One student reported, “it was really good and I think they should make it more often.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Milton Public Schools’ School Nutrition Director Jackie Morgan was excited about the “Live-Setting” training! She explained that in the past some of her staff have taken JSI’s Knife Skills workshop to go and not everyone was able to attend but “the “Live-Setting” training gives all employees access to skills.” Some of the skills the staff learned during this pilot training include knife skills, how to make a homemade broth including charring onions over an open flame, washing produce after chopping and using a salad spinner to dry it, and seasoning and roasting chicken and pork.

Stay tuned for more information and opportunities to bring a JSI “Live-Setting” Culinary Training to your school in the 2017-2018 school year!

Smarter Lunchrooms in Massachusetts 2016-2017

School nutrition professionals recognized at the Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit.

On Wednesday, May 24th The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition held the second day of the Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit. In the morning a Recognition Ceremony was held to recognize the schools who participated in the Massachusetts Smarter Lunchrooms Movement and Wellness Initiatives for Student Success as well as other professional development programs offered in the 2016-2017 academic year.

Christanne Harrison discusses the successes of the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement in Massachusetts.

In an afternoon breakout session Smarter Lunchrooms Movement: Nudging Students to Eat Healthy Christanne Harrison, MPH, RD, Kristen Morello, SNS, School Nutrition Director (Reading, MA) and Kim Purcell, School Nutrition Manager (Central Elementary School, East Bridgewater, MA) discussed the successes of the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement in Massachusetts.

During this session the presenters discussed new Smarter Lunchrooms resources as well as steps Massachusetts School Nutrition Programs have implemented to make the healthy choice the easy choice. The Massachusetts Smarter Lunchrooms initiative was extended for a second year in 2016-2017 and like the first year, it was very successful! Twenty-five schools in Massachusetts applied for and were chosen to receive technical assistance in implementing Smarter Lunchrooms strategies throughout the 2016-2017 school year. Schools were assigned a Smarter Lunchrooms coach who provided technical assistance including completion of the Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard, identification of goals and an implementation plan, as well as ongoing communication and access to resources throughout the school year. The Massachusetts Smarter Lunchrooms Movement is unique when compared to other states because of the individualized support and communication between the coach and the school.

Kristin Morello (left) speaks about her experience participating in the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement.

Kristin Morello shared some tips with the audience:

  • Involve the staff in completing your school’s Smarter Lunchrooms goals.
  • Complete the cheapest and easiest goals first.
  • Identify one challenging goal that will take planning and collaboration and use that as a school goal.

Kim Purcell discusses Smarter Lunchrooms from a manager’s perspective.

Kim Purcell explained how collaborations within the school can lead to better outcomes with Smarter Lunchrooms goals. In her school, the principal sometimes describes a fruit or a vegetable over the loud speaker and the students are charged with guessing what it is. Engaging all school staff and students is a wonderful and creative way to get students thinking about fruits and vegetables throughout the school day.

The Massachusetts Smarter Lunchrooms Movement was shared nationally at Cornell University at the 2017 Smarter Lunchrooms Annual Symposium on May 12-13th.

Smarter Lunchrooms summary sheets for each of the participating schools:

To learn more about the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement visit the Smarter Lunchrooms category in the JSI Resource Center and consider becoming a Smarter Lunchrooms school in SY17-18.

Improve Leadership and Management Skills through The Management Institute

The summer is a great time to get a jumpstart on 2017-2018 professional development for you and your team. The Management Institute is a three-day program designed specifically for the professional development needs of school nutrition managers to strengthen their leadership and management skills.

This three-day program focuses on topics highly relevant for school nutrition managers including leadership, financial management, personnel management, communication, merchandising and nutrition. Participants learn about creating a positive culture in the lunchroom, how to effectively market food to students and develop strong communication skills to enhance relationships both inside and outside your team.

Leadership presentation from The Management Institute

The program provides 21 hours of interactive learning over the three days from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at Four Points by Sheraton in Norwood, MA. The cost is $250 per person which covers all workshops, materials along with continental breakfast and lunch each day.

An interactive activity aimed at identifying cost control strategies to save food costs in school food programs.

If you’re interested in attending The Management Institute, please register online by August 1st. For additional information or questions, please contact JSI at johnstalker@framingham.edu.

Sea to School in Massachusetts

Did you know that seafood is the new Harvest of the Month for May? To kick off the month, SNA of Massachusetts’ Chapter 4 hosted a meeting for school nutrition directors, Directors Round Table: New Menu Ideas on Thursday, April 27th at Framingham High School.

The meeting included a presentation by Jamey Lionette, Director of Sustainable Seafood Program at Red’s Best in which he shared how Red’s Best is changing the system of acquiring seafood by offering a “Catch of the Day” package at a set price, all year long. He explained that a rigid demand for certain species of fish exists, but what is abundant and caught everyday is not always what’s in demand. In an effort to cut back on overfishing certain species, The “Catch of the Day” package provides foodservice operations with underutilized and abundant fish species, diverting the pressure away from heavily fished species such as cod. Since the species that are included in the Catch of the Day are all flakey, white fish, they all produce a similar result when used in recipes and can be interchanged without changing the flavor profile or texture of the dish.

School districts in Massachusetts are on-board with supporting local fishermen to get fresh, local, wild-caught, affordable seafood from Red’s Best. At the meeting Jenny Devivo, Chef and School Nutrition Director from Up Island Regional School District on Martha’s Vineyard, demonstrated preparation of two school nutrition recipes: Catch of the Day Fish Chowder and Catch of the Day Crispy Oven Baked Fish Bites. Chef Devivo explained that her students absolutely love the Catch of the Day recipes offered every Friday, even more than pizza day!

If you’re interested in bringing seafood to your school nutrition program, visit the Farm and Sea to School resource category in the JSI Resource Center to learn more.

May is Celiac Awareness Month! Educate Your Staff with a Gluten-Free at School Workshop to Go

Did you know that Celiac Disease affects 1% of the population and is the world’s most prevalent genetic autoimmune condition? As May marks the beginning of Celiac Awareness Month, consider scheduling the Gluten-Free at School Workshop to Go for your staff.

This interactive workshop uncovers the basics of gluten, identifies ingredients with gluten and helps attendees learn how find these items on food labels. Using practice scenarios and group dialogue, attendees discuss how to create a safe and nutritious gluten-free school environment for students with diet limitations.

The Gluten-Free at School Workshop to Go covers what to look for on a food nutrition label to avoid gluten for students.

Throughout the two-hour workshop, school staff will participate in hands-on activities like “Gluten or No Gluten” to reinforce their label-reading knowledge. The instructor will walk through specific activities that will prepare school staff for common scenarios they may face as they work to accommodate students with Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity. Additionally, the group will discuss possible gluten-free substitutions for school menus and ensure these ideas adhere to USDA guidelines.

The workshop will also share the latest food labeling laws to identify gluten. You can  learn more about how gluten-free products are labeled by The U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help inform how you label and package products at your school.

Gluten-Free at School resources on the JSI Resource Center

The JSI Resource Center is also full of great “Gluten-Free at School” resources which include links to resources actually shared in the Gluten-Free at School Workshop to Go and other external links that will help staff learn about Celiac Disease, new research and find more information about gluten-free diets.

Please visit the JSI website for more information or to schedule this Workshop to Go today!