Recent MA SNP News Roundup: Challenges and Kudos

JSI newspaper icon3School nutrition programs in Massachusetts are working hard to meet the challenges of expanding school breakfast, reducing food waste, and more, according to our roundup of recent news. Schools and districts are also working to overcome obstacles, and many are being recognized for their efforts:

  • Food service directors from Ashland, Framingham, Marlborough and Milton weighed in on the challenge of boosting school breakfast participation in an article from MetroWest Daily. Successful approaches appear to be those tailored to the unique infrastructure of each school.
  • Let’s Move spotlighted Somerville Public Schools as a model for farm-to-school programs on their blog. SPS has implemented the program in K-12 Food & Nutrition Services to increase students’ interest in healthier food choice.
  • Let’s Move also featured Natick’s Memorial Elementary School as an Active Schools success story.  Their “BOKS” program brings before-school exercise sessions and during-school “activity bursts” thanks to a collaborative effort by parents, teachers, and/or staff members.
  • The Eagle Tribune reports that new school-food guidelines are resulting in increased food waste in Methuen schools. Director of school nutrition services Mike Vespa said staff input and trial-and-error to fine-tune menus has cut down on food-waste volume compared with the beginning of the school year.

We know your school or district has been busy this year, and we’d love to hear about it in the comments, or submit your story to be featured among JSI Success Stories!

Lawrence PS Students Win for Participation in JSI School-Food Preference Survey

Two students at Lawrence Public Schools were rewarded for providing their valuable input about school lunch preferences in a K-12 student survey when they won the raffle for a $25 gift card (Emilly Martinez, grade 4) and a iPad (Liliangel Alvarado, grade 4). JSI would like to congratulate the lucky raffle winners, and thank the more than 4,000 students across the Commonwealth who participated in our survey!

At the request of the Mass. Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of Nutrition, Health and Safety, JSI and an expert panel are working to develop a 4-week menu cycle for schools in Massachusetts; a survey that was open through Dec. 2012 helped inform that effort. School nutrition staff, teachers, administrators and more helped to coordinate distribution of the survey throughout school districts and to encourage student participation. Every student who responded was entered into the raffle.

All Massachusetts schools will receive a copy of the completed menu project later this spring.

Want to see the full survey text? Click here to open a pdf version of the full survey.

Want to read more about the Massachusetts Menu Planning Project? Read about it in this JSI blog post.

Needham Does it Faster with Tracey Burg!

On March 7th Tracey Burg, RD led the JSI Workshop to Go “Can You Do it Faster,” at Needham High School, where staff learned new ways to increase their productivity as well as how to save energy, time, and money in the workplace.

The training took place on a snowy spring morning. Tracey got the group moving and ready to learn while explaining the importance of incorporating stretching into their day, especially when working on time-consuming tasks.  She even had the group practice the stretches!

needham exercise

needham stretching


Tracey also led the group in a discussion about how the staff could cut time and energy down on their most time consuming daily task.


There was also some friendly competition going on during this JSI training! Tracey had two volunteers demonstrate the difference in efficiency of using one hand vs. two hands when preparing a salad.

needham competition

Tracey showed the importance of using the correct kitchen tools for each task at hand to cut down on energy and time.

needham 13

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Do you want to learn how to improve productivity at your school? Bring this training to your school with a JSI Workshop to Go.  Perfect for staff development days and economically priced at only $299 (minimum of ten staff required).  For more information about JSI workshop options and to request a Workshop to Go, please visit the JSI website.

Looking for more information on improving productivity? Check out the online resources on this topic in the JSI Resource Center!


Recent MA SNP News Roundup: Obesity Prevention, Revenue Boost and Student Survey

JSI newspaper icon2There’s a lot going on in Massachusetts school nutrition programs. In our recent review of local news, we found school districts’ nutrition programs are making changes inside schools and throughout their communities:

  • As a community, Fitchburg has made great strides to prevent and reduce childhood obesity, says this feature from WBUR. Jill Lucius, nutrition director for Fitchburg schools, talks about how full-day food service (breakfast through supper) in the school nutrition program has been a key part of the anti-obesity initiative.
  • The Menton-Upford District implemented the NutriKids school food payment system this year, and revenues are up $30,000, according to Milford Daily News. District Food Service Director Dianne Braga told the school committee that food-service managers are pleased with the new, efficient payment system.
  • Metrowest Daily News featured the statewide survey of students’ eating habits, coordinated by JSI. Some of the most interesting information came from students’ choices when considering only healthier food groups – for example, top vegetable were garden salad, broccoli and spinach. Read more on our blog about how the survey results informed the design of a four-week menu cycle in the Massachusetts Menu Planning Project.

We know your school or district has been busy this year, and we’d love to hear about it in the comments, or submit your story to be featured among JSI Success Stories!

Success Story: Milton Public Schools

This Success Story was submitted by Jacqueline Morgan, Director of Food Services in Milton, MA. You can also share your Success Stories here!

Whole Foods Market staff members recently visited Milton High School and Pierce Middle School as part of a collaboration between Whole Foods and the Milton Public Schools.

This partnership formed two years ago when Michelle Obama developed the “Let’s Move” Campaign. At that time our Food Service Director, Jackie Morgan, applied for a grant for a salad bar from Whole Foods. The Dedham store awarded the Pierce Middle School a $3,000 salad bar that the Food Service Department turned into a fruit and veggie cart so that students could take more fruits and veggies with their lunches.

Since then, Whole Foods staff members, including Maureen Buckley, Healthy Eating Specialist in Dedham; Alex Tillotson, Culinary Demo Specialist in Dedham; Lisa Caldwell, Healthy Eating Specialist in Wellesley; and Samantha Gafford, Customer Service Supervisor in Wellesley, have been in Pierce Middle School working with our health teacher, Chris Maine. They also have been in each of his classrooms teaching nutrition lessons.

FS team in Milton Chef in Milton Milton and Whole Foods

Recently, the team has been working with the High School Food Service team on the five half-days. Whole Foods staff members brought in a chef and and taught the Food Service staff new and creative food dishes, focusing on our newly-mandated offerings by USDA, which include dark leafy greens, orange vegetables and beans.

We are grateful to the folks at Whole Foods who have helped to make this collaboration extremely productive. I am also grateful to our Food Service staff whom have made this such a huge success.


Recent News Roundup: Promoting Massachusetts School Nutrition Programs

JSI newspaper iconMost Massachusetts schools have reached the 100-day mark in the 2012-2013 year, and school nutrition programs have spent those days working hard to bring good food and nutrition to students. Our recent review of local news finds that many school districts are having promoting school nutrition programs:

  • In Bellingham, School Nutrition Director Jeanne Sheridan is flexing some marketing muscle for the school breakfast programs in middle and high schools, reports Milford Daily News. Taste tests, sampling, and promotion are all part of the mix to encourage student participation.
  • “School lunches aren’t what they used to be; they’re better,” reports the Patch in an article about updated school food in North Reading schools. District Director of Food Services Anna McGovern adds the personal touch to lunch promotion, standing on the high school line and encouraging students to take fruits and vegetables.
  • After student advisors told the Watertown School Committee that updated school lunches were too small, the schools commissioned a series of informational posters (created by student graphic artists) to explain the new federal school nutrition guidelines (Wicked Local article).
  • Billerica schools’ Tasty Thursdays –  where food services staff hand out samples of new, healthy foods – were featured in Wicked Local. Food Services Director April Laskey is quoted, describing how Billerica schools have implemented the updated school nutrition guidelines this year.

How has your school or district had success in adapting to new school nutrition standards and promoting your school food programs this year? We’d love to hear about it in the comments, or submit your story to be featured among JSI Success Stories!

Looking for more information on promoting your school nutrition program? Check out the online resources on this topic in the JSI Resource Center!

Nutrition At Your Fingertips: New Nutrition App Guide in JSI Resource Center

App guide title slide2A brand new addition to the JSI Resource Center will turn your mobile devices into nutrition powerhouses – check out the FSU Nutrition App Guide! This app guide was created by students Dianna Carpentieri, Mollynda McArthur and Emily Saperia with Professor Denise Hobby, M.Ed, as a graduate project for the class Computer Applications in Nutrition at Framingham State University. There is an abundance of nutrition and fitness related applications available for mobile devices. After conducting an objective, educated evaluation of many apps, students and faculty compiled this list to aid mobile device users in choosing those that are the most reliable and functional.

The FSU Nutrition App Guide provides succinct reviews and links to downloads for 45 apps, many of which are available for multiple device types (Apple, Android, Blackberry, and more). The reviews are grouped into two main sections – apps for nutrition professionals, and apps for consumers – and cover apps for clinical use, food tracking, recipes, games and more.

Now there’s no need to spend hours searching for the best nutrition apps! Using the FSU Nutrition App Guide means the work of searching for functional, credible nutrition apps has been done for you. Just head to the Nutrition App Guide section in the JSI Resource Center, and you can view the guide as an interactive slide show or download the full guide as a pdf.