News Roundup

  • 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.

Strengthen Your Management Skills this August at the Management Institute

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.

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Here is some of the feedback we received from participants at last year’s Management Institute.

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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.

How the Mediterranean Diet Can Enhance Your School Menu

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.

 

 

Join the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement for the 2017-2018 School Year

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 johnstalker@framingham.edu and the Smarter Lunchrooms coordinator will contact you.

  1. Name of the School Nutrition Director AND Manager who will champion Smarter Lunchrooms at their school
  2. Email addresses of School Nutrition Director and Manager
  3. Name of the school, street address, and direct phone numbers of School Nutrition Director and Manager
  4. One to two sentences describing why you would like to participate in the initiative 

News Roundup

  • State Senator Joan Lovely, State Representative Paul Tucker and Representative

    Demonstration during the SNA of MA chapter meeting at Keefe Technical High School. 

    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.

2017 Massachusetts Team Up for School Nutrition Success

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.

Event organizers, participants and mentors that attended the 2017 Team Up for School Nutrition Success event.

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.

Agenda for first day of the Team Up for School Nutrition Success Mentoring event.The first day of the event focused on

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:

Agenda for the second day of Team Up for School Nutrition mentoring event.

  • 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.

News Roundup

ESE and MDPH-Approved Online Food Allergies Training

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:

Additional resources can also be found in the JSI Resource Center’s Special Dietary Needs page.

News Roundup

  • 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.

    Inside look at how Foxborough Public Schools prepare “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 johnstalker@framingham.edu. Your story may be featured in a future JSI News Roundup!

10 Ways to Market Your School Nutrition Program

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.”

    The Smarter Lunchroom handbook highlights how small changes can promote your menu options to appeal to students and increase sales!

  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

    This is one of the USDA Team Nutrition Elementary School posters that you can find online and share in your school.

  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.