- 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.
- Food Service Director Janice Watt of Foxborough Public Schools, dietetics interns from Framingham State University and her school nutrition staff put together this video to provide an “inside look” into how their school nutrition team prepares “Real School Lunch” for students.
- Look through photos of the new vegetable garden at Dutile Elementary School in Billerica, MA. With the help of Boston Cares, the Billerica Garden Committee, school parents and students, this new garden includes sunflowers, carrots, pumpkins and squash for the school.
- Now that we’ve hit the fall months, ensuring schoolchildren get sufficient amounts of Vitamin D is top of mind. Researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts and colleagues conducted a study to understand how to bridge “The Vitamin D Gap” for children living in northern latitudes like New England.
If you have any new stories to share about your school nutrition program, don’t hesitate to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your story may be featured in a future JSI News Roundup!
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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!