- Director of School Nutrition, April Laskey, SNS of Billerica Public Schools received national recognition as one of five 2018 School Nutrition Heroes by the School Nutrition Foundation. This well-deserved award was given to April for her 12 years of serving healthy school meals to Billerica students and her incredible support and hard-work in both her school district and community.
- Mill City Grows’ (MCG) supports local farms and Lowell Families through the “Farm to Table Family Cooking Classes” by organizing workshops for 8-10 families to learn how to prepare fresh, seasonal, affordable meals together. MCG partners with Lowell Public School District’s Food and Nutrition Services and afterschool programs to host these workshops throughout the city.
- Bellingham schools are launching a food pantry program to minimize hunger throughout the town. With grant assistance from the Hockomock Area YMCA, this program will provide students with weekly food items to increase students’ access to healthy food.
- Jane Rice, the kitchen manager at Taylor Elementary School in Foxborough, MA was recognized as a “Wholesome Hero” by Rainier Fruit for her incredible work managing the school’s tower gardens. With the limited New England growing season, these hydroponic vertical gardens provide fresh vegetables like cucumbers and lettuce for students year-round.
Calling all managers! Take your management skills to the next level at the Management Institute this August 14, 15 and 16 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Devens Common Center. This three-day program is designed specifically for the professional development needs of school nutrition managers to strengthen both leadership and management skills.
Over three days of interactive learning, participants dive into highly relevant topics like leadership, financial management, personnel management, communication, marketing, merchandising, and nutrition. Learn to leverage leadership and management skills to create a positive culture in the lunchroom, market food to students and develop strong communication skills to enhance relationships both inside and outside of their teams.
Here is some of the feedback we received from participants at last year’s Management Institute.
The cost to attend the Management Institute is $250 per person which covers all workshops, materials along with continental breakfast and lunch each day.
If you’re a manager or want your managers to attend the Management Institute, please register online by July 31, 2018. Please submit one registration form for each individual registering.
The Mediterranean Diet was just ranked #1 in the Best Diets Overall category by US News and World Report. With so many unique and popular flavors to add to your school’s menu, you may be considering the possibility of offering Mediterranean cuisine to your school cafeteria.
The popular Mediterranean diet prioritizes fruits, vegetables and whole grains as the core components of each meal. These food items provide important vitamins and minerals that help students’ growing bodies, provide the necessary carbohydrates for long-lasting energy and ensure ample fiber for healthy digestion. Mediterranean cuisine encourages heart-healthy fats, vegetarian sources of protein and fresh herbs and colors that make dishes exciting and flavorful. Overall, the diet promotes a healthy weight for kids and supports proper development.
Although some of the history of the Mediterranean diet is lost with time, it’s origin stems from the Mediterranean basin. This diet has been consumed since ancient times and continues to be a popular choice today. Some countries that are part of the Mediterranean today include Greece, Italy, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Morocco. Although they each have their own cuisines, there are many similarities in ingredients and flavor profiles. Some examples of typical Mediterranean dishes include hummus, baba ganoush, couscous, falafel and kebabs. Herbs such as mint, basil, thyme, parsley and dill are staples in these recipes.
If you are interested in incorporating Mediterranean flavors and dishes in your school lunchroom, 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 that students will love. Participants explore different Mediterranean tastes that are rich in history and flavor and learn how to incorporate them into various meal components.
JSI’s newest innovative training is the Live-Setting Culinary Training which is open to five schools this school year once they have completed the Back to Basic: Mediterranean Flavors workshop. This workshop requirement is necessary because same Mediterranean recipes are prepared and served in the lunchroom in real-time alongside a JSI chef. A pilot of the Live-Setting concept was tested at Milton High School in June 2017 and we are thrilled to expand this opportunity using Mediterranean cuisine.
If you’re interested in scheduling a Back to Basics: Mediterranean Flavors Workshop you can make an online request. For additional resources on the Mediterranean diet, you can visit the JSI resource center.
There are ONLY five spots left for the SY17-18 Massachusetts Smarter Lunchrooms Initiative. Funded and supported by the Office for Food and Nutrition Programs at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, join the over 75 Massachusetts schools that have successfully participated in this program to promote healthy food choices in the lunchroom and to boost healthy food sales.
All participating schools receive hands-on technical assistance from a Smarter Lunchrooms Certified Coach. The coach will visit each school and provide:
- One 3-hour initial visit to complete a Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard. During this visit, the coach will take photos of the current lunch set-up, present a 30-minute Smarter Lunchrooms training for staff and work with each school to create a Smarter Lunchrooms plan of action.
- One 2-hour follow-up visit to repeat the Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard and take follow-up pictures of all lunch service changes. The coach will also collect production records and help evaluate each school’s success.
With personalized and hands-on support from a Coach, many Massachusetts schools have implemented impactful changes to get students excited about school lunch.
To join the initiative for SY17-18, your school needs both a School Nutrition Director AND Manager who are interested and excited about implementing Smarter Lunchrooms. E-mail the below information to firstname.lastname@example.org and the Smarter Lunchrooms coordinator will contact you.
- Name of the School Nutrition Director AND Manager who will champion Smarter Lunchrooms at their school
- Email addresses of School Nutrition Director and Manager
- Name of the school, street address, and direct phone numbers of School Nutrition Director and Manager
- One to two sentences describing why you would like to participate in the initiative
- State Senator Joan Lovely, State Representative Paul Tucker and Representative
Thomas Walsh visited Carlton Innovation School in Salem, to learn more about their school breakfast program before they vote for a bill that would require high-poverty Massachusetts schools to serve breakfast after the start of the school day.
- Keefe Technical High School hosted the SNA of MA Chapter Meeting in November. This meeting featured the newly updated JSI workshop Professional Communications presented by Lynnea Gleason.
- Orleans Elementary School invited State Representative Sarah Peake to observe the school nutrition program and learn how they connect the classroom with education in the school lunch program.
- Spotlight on Janice Rice, the Kitchen Manager at Taylor Elementary School and her work with aeroponic tower gardens to provide students access to fresh produce.
On Thursday, November 9th, 2017, Keefe Technical High School hosted the SNA of MA Chapter Meeting which featured the newly updated JSI workshop Professional Communications presented by Lynnea Gleason.
Professional communications was designed to strengthen existing skills, navigate through difficult topics, and discover ways to strengthen the communication lines of school nutrition programs.
Key learning objectives include:
- Identifying effective communication skills for adults and children
- Practice handling sensitive situations in the work setting
- Discuss ways to overcome communication barriers
This workshop features many activities to get participants out of their seats and reflecting on these objectives to promote success within their daily operations. Most of our days are spent at work, so having enjoyable relationships and a mutual understanding of one another creates a positive environment and can make the day fly by! Such synergistic productivity not only benefits your fellow employees, but also the children who are getting fed.
Consistency is a key component in school meal programs to control food costs and meet meal requirements. One of the fun and interactive activities, the PB & J sandwich activity, that took place during the workshop showed how messages can be interpreted in many different ways. Even the instructions for making a simple PB & J sandwich require good written communication to properly convey the message the way you want it to be understood. The PB & J activity effectively reinforced the key learning objective and was a hit with the audience!
To learn more about about professional communications, visit SNP: Effective Communication for a compilation of links provided in the JSI Resource Center.
Written by Marissa Green, FSU Grad Nutrition Student and Jillian Bent, FSU Food and Nutrition Intern
School nutrition directors from across the Commonwealth gathered at Framingham State University on November 29th and November 30th for the Team Up for School Nutrition Success event, sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE), and hosted by The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition at Framingham State University.
The two-day agenda included panel discussions and breakout sessions that facilitated constructive dialogue between both mentors and participants on best practices for school nutrition programs. This unique learning experience encouraged school nutrition directors to share common challenges and solutions within their respective school nutrition programs, providing valuable networking opportunities throughout the event. Participants worked with mentors to discuss current pitfalls and establish SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based) goals to make improvements in their school nutrition programs after the event.
The first day of the event focused on financial management and increasing participation key learnings and the second day on menu planning.
Some key learnings from day one included:
- Grab and go reimbursable school breakfasts are a great way to reach students that arrive late to school so they can also get the necessary nourishment to start their school day.
- If a menu item isn’t selling, it’s important to revise and/or evaluate your menus, as needed.
- Customer service is key for school nutrition programs. A smile or greeting can go a long way when you’re working with students.
The second day focused on menu planning and some key learnings included:
- Cycle menus serve as a great base when menu planning and can be flexible.
- It’s the people, not the process who impact menu planning the most because people add their own twist on recipes. Staff awareness regarding the importance of recipe standardization is a key for success.
- Find a “champion” in your school to help implement new programs and increase participation. It could be a student, a nurse, a gym teacher, etc.
- Promote your program and get active within your community – for example, attend open houses to show parents what their children are eating at school.
- Improve food quality by simply asking your team if they would eat the food your school is selling.
If you’re interested in learning more and finding additional resources check out Team Up for School Nutrition Success.
- Director of Food Service for Chicopee Public Schools Joanne Lennon was given the
- Fifth graders at Davis Thayer Elementary School in Franklin, MA delivered more than 300 pounds of donations to the Franklin Food Pantry this month.
- Dover-Sherborn Public Schools hosted the Back to Basics: Meat Alternates Workshop to Go to learn about the health benefits of meat alternates and how to make easy, meat-free meals in their schools.
- Oldham Elementary School in Norwood, MA was recently featured on CBS Boston for prioritizing real food in their lunchroom in collaboration with Jared Becker, Boston-based regional executive chef for Chartwells K-12. This school made several changes to their menu and their kitchen to serve food that not only tastes good but provides the nourishment students need to be successful in school.
On Wednesday, October 26, 2017, Dover-Sherborn Public Schools hosted the Back to Basics: Meat Alternates Workshop to Go. Chef Brendan Gallagher brought the workshop to life with his high level of exuberance and passion for the topic.This workshop is designed to teach school nutrition professionals how to make easy, meat-free meals that can be integrated into any school. Meat alternates may be a way to start curtailing the growing childhood obesity trend since one out of every three children in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Additionally, meat alternates can be a good way to introduce new foods to children.
Meat alternates include: eggs, beans, legumes, cheese, and yogurt. Not only do these ingredients contain protein, but they all provide a number of different nutrients which contribute to optimal health and growth in children. For example, beans are a good source of fiber and are lower in saturated fat compared to meats. This can help with appetite regulation, weight management, and could possibly reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
In addition to providing numerous health benefits, meat alternates can be a medium for exploring new or culturally diverse dishes. With the recipes learned in this workshop, schools can prepare lunches that will have student’s taste buds travelling around the world with Mexican, Southwestern, Mediterranean, Italian, and other influences.
After making these recipes, the staff at Dover-Sherborn sat down in the cafeteria and taste-tested them which created the true experience of a student. After doing so, they walked away from this workshop with the confidence to prepare each dish and explain the health benefits of choosing such meatless options. One way to start incorporating these foods into the school lunch menu is by introducing Meatless Mondays.
To learn more about combating childhood obesity or meatless meals, visit these resources: Recipes and Menus, Child Obesity, and Culinary Institute of America. Additionally, join us at the Bean-a-licious Culinary Demo from JSI in spring 2018 at a SNA of MA Chapter Meeting near you!
As we enter the season of eating and indulgences, we want to keep Food Allergies top of mind in Massachusetts schools. JSI offers a self-paced, 2-hour online training on “Food Allergies” to assure your school nutrition staff has the knowledge and skills to address food allergies at school.
This training will highlight the differences between food allergies and intolerances, discuss common food allergens and demonstrate how to identify these ingredients on a nutritional facts label. Real-life scenarios are included so participants can readily apply these key learnings in a school environment. This workshop is also recognized by ESE and MDPH as an acceptable training required in the Allergen Awareness Act, M.G.L.c.140, § 6B.
If you are unable to join Session 3 of this online training, JSI also offers a Food Allergies Workshop to Go which can be hosted at your school and is also recognized by ESE and MDPH. Sign up before November 20th to complete this online training during the next session which will run from December 4-18.
Two exceptional resources included in this training are available online:
- Managing Life-Threatening Allergies in Schools
- USDA Accommodating Children with Disabilities in the School Meal Programs
Additional resources can also be found in the JSI Resource Center’s Special Dietary Needs page.