New Year’s Resolution: Go Green in 2017!

Green is not just the Pantone color of the year for 2017. As we gear up for the New Year, we’d like to help you think of new ideas to get your school nutrition staff and students involved in programs that are not only beneficial to your school, but also the community and the environment. There are many cost-effective strategies you can implement in your school to minimize food waste and implement “greener” practices throughout the year.

Food Waste:

It’s estimated that 40% of food produced in this country doesn’t get consumed (Treehugger). To help minimize food waste in your school you can make small changes, which include:

  • Keep your staff educated on food safety so food is not lost due to improper storage, production or receiving practices. The John C. Stalker Institute (JSI) offers a Workshop to Go to help create a culture of food safety at your school.
  • Keep production records to identify what leads to food waste.
  • Ensure team is monitoring expiration dates so you can prioritize food to serve in your school.
  • Letting students serve themselves and select the portions they will actually eat.
  • Setting up a table for kids to place items they are not going to consume like their milk cartons.

Recycling Leftover Food

There are many ways to use leftover food to benefit your community and the environment, which can include:

  • Compost food waste at your school. Composting reduces landfill waste and generates products that build community and can save your school money. This can be a complement to your schools’ science classes.
  • If your school is located near a farm with animals, you can share food scraps for their animal feed. Understand what type of food your local farmer needs and what they can actually use for their animals.
  • Fats, oils, and grease can be used to make biodiesel – a renewable fuel source for diesel engines. Contact a local biodiesel club or manufacturer to see if they will accept donations.

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-1-45-14-pmGrow Your Own Food

A school garden is a first-hand learning experience for students, a green addition to your community and a simple way to generate produce for your school. Working in the garden gets students outside and moving. To get started:

  • Determine the site of your school garden. Use a Soil Testing Laboratory to collect soil samples to determine its quality.
  • Involve students in the planning, creation and upkeep of the school garden so it becomes a labor of love from both staff and the student body.
  • JSI also offers a “Back to Basics: Fruits & Vegetables” Workshop to Go which shares healthy new ways to use fruit and vegetables to give your meals a flavor boost.screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-2-45-12-pm

Access great tips on how to minimize school food waste and learn more about the U.S. Food Waste Challenge here.

For more “Go Green for Schools” online resources, please visit the JSI Resource Center. If you come across other programs, initiatives or resources that would be helpful for Massachusetts schools, feel free to share this content with us at

The Nuts and Bolts of Food Safety

Nuts and Bolts of School Nutrition Programs is a professional development series led by staff from ESE’s Office for Food and Nutrition Programs in coordination with The John C. Stalker Institute  developed to increase the knowledge and abilities of school nutrition directors to implement the USDA National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. The November session focused on the important topic of food safety in schools and covered HACCP principles, activities to enhance confident in implementing food safety plans and strategies to create a culture of food safety in your school. The session was presented by Cindy Rice from Eastern Food Safety and included ESE and USDA staff as well as 20 school nutrition directors.
Topicsfood-safety-image in this session included risk factors and prevention of foodborne illness, sanitation practices, rules of food service handling from receiving to serving, food recall procedures, and HACCP. Through education and review of these topics, all those in attendance received a Certificate in HACCP and Food Safety. Congratulations!
Looking for resources on Food Safety? Check out the Food Safety category in the JSI Resource Center which includes a variety of links to helpful food safety resources. Bring a food safety training directly to your school with the Essentials of Food Safety Workshop To Go.

Food Allergies: School Guidelines and Education

On October 17, 2016 at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo  nearly 350 attendees joined the session entitled, Food Allergies: School Guidelines and Education which aimed to provide useful in-sight into the role of dietitians/school nutrition professionals can play in implementing state-level guidance and professional development for the prevention and management of life-threatening allergies in the school setting.

Christanne Harrison (right) and Karen McGrail (left) all smiles after their successful presentation at FNCE

Christanne Harrison (left) and Karen McGrail (right) all smiles after their successful presentation at FNCE

As a leader in school-based food allergy guidance and education, Massachusetts has updated the Managing Life-Threatening Food Allergies in Schools guidelines and professional development offered to reflect the most current data, laws and policies, terminology, and protocols related to managing life-threatening allergies in the school and early childcare settings.

The Managing Life-Threatening Food Allergies in Schools guidelines are intended to assist Massachusetts school districts, non-public schools, early education and care programs, and summer feeding programs to develop and implement policies and comprehensive protocols for the care of children with life-threatening allergic conditions. The guidelines address:

  • Scope of the problem of childhood allergies
  • Types of detailed plans that should be in place to help prevent allergic reaction emergencies and deaths from anaphylaxis
  • Systematic planning and multidisciplinary team approach needed prior to entry into a school or program by the child with life- threatening allergies
  • School or program role in preventing exposure to specific allergens
  • Emergency management during a life-threatening allergic event
  • Roles of specific staff members in the care of the child with a life- threatening allergic condition

The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition at Framingham State University offers face-to-face and online professional development opportunities based upon the newly updated Managing Life-Threatening Food Allergies in Schools guidelines to school professionals across the Commonwealth.  These offerings include:

  • Food Allergies Workshops to Go – 2-hour workshop delivered in Massachusetts schools for school nutrition staff and managers.
  • Food Allergies Online Workshop – online version of the Food Allergies Workshop to Go provides a convenient training option for school nutrition staff, managers and directors.
  • Exploring Food Allergies – 4 week online graduate course designed for teachers, nurses, school nutrition directors offered by Framingham State University’s Professional Development for Educators.

Take advantage of these food allergy professional development opportunities! Visit The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition web page to register online or schedule your Food Allergies Workshop to Go. For additional food allergy resources, be sure to check out the Food Allergy resources and Special Dietary Needs category in the JSI Resource Center.