Auburn Public Schools: a Cut Above the Rest!

Chef Tracey Burg, RD

Chef Tracey Burg, RD

On Friday March 11, 2016 I had the pleasure of observing the JSI Workshop to Go Knife Skills: Be a Cut Above the Rest! presented by Chef Tracey Burg, RD at Auburn Public Schools. The school nutrition director at Auburn Public Schools, Janice King, MEd, RDN, SNS, CDE, scheduled the 2-hour workshop as a fun, hands-on way to incorporate professional development for her staff as she hopes to cultivate a culinary culture within the district’s school nutrition program.

During the workshop Chef Tracey reviewed knife-handling skills where she explained the importance of using knife safety precautions. She emphasized that using the proper blade for the task at hand can greatly minimize risk.

Auburn Public Schools School Nutrition Program employees practice newly learned knife skills.

Auburn Public Schools school nutrition program employees practice newly learned knife skills.

Blade sharpening techniques were also reviewed and Chef Tracey explained that a dull knife could sometimes be more dangerous than a sharp one because it requires extra pressure that could cause food to slip.

Chef Tracey also did several culinary demonstrations that were followed by participant practice time. Participants learned how to do various types of cuts including dice, cube, and batonnet. Lastly, Chef Tracey demonstrated fun garnishing techniques that really got participants excited to practice!

Bring this and other workshops directly to your school! Visit JSI’s website to request a workshop today. Materials from this workshop are available on the Cooking Basics and Knife Skills page within the JSI Resource Center. Check out more images from this workshop on JSI’s Pinterest page.

Various garnishing techniques by Chef Tracey Burg

Various garnishing techniques by Chef Tracey Burg

Get Ready for the 2016 Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit!

The 2016 Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit will be held at the Four Points by Sheraton Norwood on May 24th and 25th. The two-day conference is sponsored by the Office for Nutrition, Health and Safety at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition. School nutrition directors and business managers from across the Commonwealth are invited and encouraged to register to attend both days. The conference is aimed at promoting healthy students and healthy school nutrition programs. During the morning and afternoon on both days the following presenters will hold general sessions:


Three distinct learning tracks offer attendees an in depth learning opportunity. When you register, select the track that best meets your interests and learning needs.

  • Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child
  • Procurement
  • Building Human Capital

The Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit brochure will be arriving in your mail this week! Register online by May 6, 2016.


Using Taste Tests to Promote Your School Nutrition Program

Click image to download USDA poster/sticker JPG

Click image to download USDA poster/sticker JPG

Often times simply changing menu options is not enough to increase participation. Promoting new options is a key step in getting students to choose them. Taste tests for students are a fun and interactive way to gauge how receptive students are to a new recipe before offering it on the menu plus it allows you to get useful feedback that can be used to implement changes in the future. Taste testing exposes children to new and different foods. Did you know that a child might have to try a food up to ten or more times before accepting it?

The Ohio Smarter Lunchrooms Movement Taste Testing Getting Started Guide offers tips to increase student participation in taste tests so that you can get the most accurate assessment of student preferences possible.

  • Promote the event with signage to get students excited for taste testing day! Be sure to include appealing features of the item and creative adjectives to describe it.
  • Set up the taste testing station in a place that will prompt students as they pass –don’t forget to use verbal prompts to encourage students to taste.
  • Ensure that the sample item is visually appealing to students. Fresh, colorful, bite size portions are best.
  • Document feedback from surveys, comment cards, student votes, or verbal responses. Click here to download a free taste testing form from USDA.

    Mount Clemens, Michigan Broccoli Carrot Salad samples


VT Feed’s Guide to Taste Testing Local Food in Schools suggests developing a food committee of parents and teachers who support the program while ­­­­­other schools have started student clubs that help generate new food ideas that can be used for preliminary testing or to help prepare the food for taste testing day.

Additional taste test resources such as fliers, comment cards, stickers, and posters are available on the Ohio Smarter Lunchroom page. For additional resources on taste testing, visit JSI’s Resource Center.

Left image credit: this image was found on the School Meals that Rock Pinterest page.