May is Celiac Awareness Month! Educate Your Staff with a Gluten-Free at School Workshop to Go

Did you know that Celiac Disease affects 1% of the population and is the world’s most prevalent genetic autoimmune condition? As May marks the beginning of Celiac Awareness Month, consider scheduling the Gluten-Free at School Workshop to Go for your staff.

This interactive workshop uncovers the basics of gluten, identifies ingredients with gluten and helps attendees learn how find these items on food labels. Using practice scenarios and group dialogue, attendees discuss how to create a safe and nutritious gluten-free school environment for students with diet limitations.

The Gluten-Free at School Workshop to Go covers what to look for on a food nutrition label to avoid gluten for students.

Throughout the two-hour workshop, school staff will participate in hands-on activities like “Gluten or No Gluten” to reinforce their label-reading knowledge. The instructor will walk through specific activities that will prepare school staff for common scenarios they may face as they work to accommodate students with Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity. Additionally, the group will discuss possible gluten-free substitutions for school menus and ensure these ideas adhere to USDA guidelines.

The workshop will also share the latest food labeling laws to identify gluten. You can  learn more about how gluten-free products are labeled by The U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help inform how you label and package products at your school.

Gluten-Free at School resources on the JSI Resource Center

The JSI Resource Center is also full of great “Gluten-Free at School” resources which include links to resources actually shared in the Gluten-Free at School Workshop to Go and other external links that will help staff learn about Celiac Disease, new research and find more information about gluten-free diets.

Please visit the JSI website for more information or to schedule this Workshop to Go today!

Host a Two-Day Interactive Culinary and Nutrition Workshop at Your School

This summer, Andover Public Schools in conjunction with The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition, is hosting a Healthy Cuisine for Kids two-day interactive culinary and nutrition workshop from the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN). If you aren’t familiar with this professional development opportunity, it’s designed to help school nutrition staff work as a team to prepare, evaluate and present healthy and student-friendly recipes.

If your school is thinking about offering professional development to your staff over summer break or a future school vacation this fall, you may wish to collaborate with JSI to host a Healthy Cuisine for Kids workshop at your school.  This workshop also helps attendees satisfy the USDA’s annual continuing education and training requirements for school nutrition staff.

Through 16 hours of training, participants learn new and healthy cooking methods, refresh on important kitchen skills and apply the nutrition principles of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The training is hands-on as attendees take part in these four culinary labs:

  1. Culinary basics, including the essential concept of mis en place
  2. Fruits and vegetables
  3. Whole-grain rich foods
  4. Meat/meat alternatives

After the workshop, participants will be able to identify quality food standards and understand nutrition principles for the foods discussed in each lab. Ultimately, participants leave the workshop feeling empowered with the tools and techniques to create meals that stand out to students and also provide nutritional value.

Vegetable pizza recipe demonstrated and prepared during a Healthy Cuisine for Kids workshop

This workshop requires the full use of your school kitchen during the two-day workshop as well as a prep day prior to the workshop. Healthy Cuisine for Kids requires a minimum of 20-25 participants and maximum of 30 participants, so it may be helpful to join with school staff from other districts in your area.

There is no cost for the Healthy Cuisine for Kids workshop and The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition can help arrange this workshop for Massachusetts schools.

If you’re interested in learning more about hosting Healthy Cuisine for Kids at your school, please e-mail us at johnstalker@framingham.edu with potential dates to host the workshop.

Highlights for Day Two of the 2017 Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit

Day two of the 2017 Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit is full of insightful learning sessions, networking opportunities and a recognition ceremony for school nutrition professionals and programs from across Massachusetts.

Schedule at a Glance for 2017 Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit.

The Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, Mitchell D. Chester EdD will offer words of welcome and address the general session as we return for day two of the Summit. Following this, all Summit attendees will learn about the highly acclaimed Team Up for School Nutrition Success Initiative from ESE Educational Specialists Linda Fischer, MEd, RD, LDN and Sally Teixeira, BA in the general session entitled “Better Together with Team Up: Expanding Your Professional Network”. The Team Up for School Nutrition Success Initiative offered this past fall was such a huge success that we thought, what better place to share this than at the Summit. The session will highlight the initiative which uses a peer-to-peer mentorship model and you will also hear about the experiences and achievements from your colleagues who participated last fall. All learning tracks for the Summit will include a Team Up for School Nutrition morning breakout session that will be specifically designed for each track: Growing, Leading and Maximizing Your Business.

During the afternoon general session, Robert Leshin, Director for the Office for Food and Nutrition Programs will share program updates and essential news for Massachusetts school nutrition programs. This session will be followed by a recognition ceremony honoring individuals and school nutrition programs that have participated in a variety of programs offered during the 2016-17 school year. Whether attendees are receiving an award or supporting these monumental programs and school nutrition professionals, this is a ceremony you can’t miss.

The afternoon learning tracks, scheduled from 2:00-3:30p.m. on May 24, offer a variety of session topics that cater to each track allowing attendees to meet their learning needs and take their professional development to the next level. Check out the sessions in the slide show below:

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Register for the 2017 Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit by May 5th. To learn more about both days of the Summit, download the Summit brochure here.

Highlights for Day One of the 2017 Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit

May is right around the corner and we hope that you will join us for the 2017 Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit on May 23rd and 24th at the Four Points at Sheraton in Norwood, MA. The first day of the Summit is full of educational and networking opportunities for school nutrition directors and managers, two keynotes speakers and impactful breakout sessions throughout the morning and afternoon.

Schedule at a Glance for May 23rd of the 2017 Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit

The first day of the Summit will kick off at 8:00 a.m. with a warm welcome from Robert Leshin, MPA Director of the Office for Food and Nutrition Programs and Karen McGrail, MEd, RDN, LDN, Director of The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition.

Keynote on “The Four Voices of Change,” will be presented by David Hulings, Motivational Transition Coach at Hulings and Associates, L.L.C. on May 23rd.

The morning keynote “The Four Voices of Change,” will be presented by David Hulings, Motivational Transition Coach at Hulings and Associates, L.L.C. , who brings over thirty years of motivational training experience to the Summit.

As an experienced one-on-one executive coach for K-12 school nutrition professionals and administrators, we were thrilled when Hulings agreed to not only present the keynote address, but to also spend the entire day at the Summit. You will not want to miss his two breakout sessions in the Leading Your Business  learning track to help you cultivate your leadership skills and strengthen your workforce.

Keynote on “How to be Resilient in Times of Stress,” by Dr. Arthur Ciaramicoli, EdD, PhD, Author of The Stress Solution on May 23rd.

 

 

The lunch keynote address “How to be Resilient in Times of Stress,” will be presented by Dr. Arthur Ciaramicoli, EdD, PhD, Clinical Psychologist and Author of The Stress Solution. Described by his audiences as an engaging and articulate speaker, Dr. Ciaramicoli will help you discover how perception and empathy can be used to reduce stress and create a happier life.

School nutrition directors are encouraged to register managers for the Growing your Business learning track on day one of the Summit to attend the “Utilizing the Cafeteria as a Classroom,” breakout session offered by the Institute of Child Nutrition. This session provides the tools and resources that will help managers develop and enhance a program that will be recognized as an integral part of the education system.  Utilize your cafeteria as a classroom and help students turn nutrition knowledge into action!

Interested in enhancing your program’s purchasing and procurement process? The Maximizing Your Business learning track is for you! Get in the driver’s seat and take control of your program’s purchasing and procurement with tried and true financial management strategies.  This track will also cover what to expect and how to prepare for a procurement review.

Be sure to register for the SNA of MA Reception immediately following the Summit on May 23rd from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Relax with your peers and vendors while enjoying light snacks in the ballroom of the Four Points by Sheraton. Participate in a scavenger hunt designed to help you learn about available products and services. Get fun facts about your vendors and school nutrition. This is networking at its best!

Each day of the Summit provides 5½ continuing education hours to meet USDA Professional Standards training needs. Don’t forget to register by May 5th.  We hope to see you there!

The two-day conference is sponsored by the Office for Food and Nutrition Programs at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition.

 

2017 Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit

Registration is now open for the 2017 Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit on May 23-24th. This two-day Summit will take place at the Four Points by Sheraton in Norwood, MA and gather school nutrition directors and managers from across the Commonwealth to promote healthy students and healthy school nutrition programs.

Each day of the Summit provides 5½ continuing education hours to meet USDA Professional Standards training needs. School nutrition directors are encouraged to register their managers for May 23rd which includes a breakout session specifically for school nutrition managers.

Download the 2017 Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit.

The Summit will begin on May 23rd at 8 am and on both days, you can select breakout sessions from one of these three learning tracks:

  • Growing your Business – Explore marketing techniques and strategies to increase student participation.
  • Leading your Business – Learn new marketing techniques and strategies to increase student participation.
  • Maximizing Your Business – Discover financial management strategies to enhance your program’s purchasing and procurement process.

Register for the Summit by May 5th.  The cost is $60 per day or $100 for both days. You can view the full schedule for both days in the brochure here.

The two-day conference is sponsored by the Office for Food and Nutrition Programs at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition.

 

 

Westport Explores Food Allergies and Ways to Add Flavor and Flair to School Meals

Written by Guest Blogger Katelyn Castro, Dietetic Intern at Tufts Medical Center

In the United States, eight foods or food groups account for 90% of all serious allergic reactions: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean, shellfish, wheat, soy, peanut, and tree nuts. Identifying foods containing these major allergens, developing appropriate substitutions, and avoiding cross-contact during food preparation in schools can be life-saving for children with severe food allergies. School nutrition employees play an essential role in providing a safe and inclusive cafeteria environment for children with food allergies.

On March 17, 2017 JSI hosted a Workshop to Go: Food Allergies for Westport Community Schools, which gave school staff members an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of how to manage food allergies in their school systems. Registered Dietitian, Christanne Harrison, provided training on food allergies versus food intolerances, the top 8 allergens, common food allergy symptoms, and suggestions for allergen-free menu substitutions. With activities on label reading, staff members learned to recognize hidden food allergens. With practice scenarios and groups discussions, staff also identified strategies to ensure a allergy safe school environment and a concrete emergency response plan. All content of the workshop was based upon the newly updated Managing Life-Threatening Allergies in Schools guidance.

In addition to the 2-hour food allergy workshop, the Westport school nutrition staff also participated in JSI’s Infusing Flavor and Flair into School Meals Workshop presented by Janyl Finnerty, a chef and registered dietitian. Throughout the workshop, Westport school nutrition staff explored K-12 food trends, taste and flavor preferences, food presentation techniques, and simple ways to enhance the flavor and appeal of school meals. Did you know taste testing was found to be the number one trend to promote healthier choices in schools, based on a 2015 survey by the School Nutrition Association? Taste testing is one of many strategies discussed in this workshop that school nutrition staff can utilize to increase interest in healthy school foods.

With multiple activities incorporated into the Infusing Flavor and Flair into School Meals Workshop, staff members learned how to enhance the flavor of vegetables by creating and tasting four spice blends. Recipe demonstrations of a Broccoli Salad and Tunisian Chickpea Salad also introduced ways to make quick and easy recipes that are also flavorful, healthy, and appealing to children.

Delicious Broccoli Salad

Workshop resources for Food Allergies and for Infusing Flavor and Flair into School Meals can be found in the JSI Resource Center. Visit the JSI webpage to learn more about the professional development opportunities to help you improve your school’s nutrition with engaging, interactive and practical workshops tailored to your school’s needs.

10 Social Media Tips to Promote Your Program

1. Know Your Audience

  • Each social media account will have a different audience. Once you understand the individuals that will be reading and engaging with your posts you can personalize your content to match their interests.
  • For example, your Facebook community may be comprised of parents so you can focus on upcoming nutrition events and happenings in your school but your Instagram following might only consist of students so you can share fun photos, upcoming menus and host photo contests.

2. A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

  • Make sure your content stands out by including photos and videos that will catch your audience’s attention as they scroll through social media channels on their phone or computer.

Play with menu items to ensure they are eye-catching when you share them online.

3 . Bring Attention to Your Social Media Channels

  • If you want to grow your communities, you can promote your social channels online and in your school. Include your social media links on school handouts, lunchroom bulletins and posters. If your school has a main Facebook page or Twitter account, ask them to share links to your nutrition-focused pages in their “ABOUT” section or in upcoming posts.

4. Think Ahead for New Content

  • Use upcoming school events, relevant holidays (March is National Nutrition Month!) and school happenings for new social media content. Stay ahead of ‘what’s coming up next’ so you can post that content when it’s relevant and timely.

    National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

5. Use Social Media to Promote Nutrition with Students

  • Run a social media photo contest to get students excited about nutrition. Encourage students to eat more fruits and vegetables by asking them to share a photo of their lunch plates on Instagram or have them nominate new lunch menu items by using a a hashtag on Twitter (students ages 13 and up).

    Locke Middle School in Billerica, MA created the #mealonpoint Instagram challenge to encourage students to eat a well-balanced meal and Instagram a photo of their healthy choice for the chance to win a prize.

6. Engage with your Followers

  • Check your social media accounts for just ten minutes each day and engage, as needed. Social media is an online community and fans and followers will be more inclined to engage with your posts, if you also like and respond to their comments and spark an ongoing dialogue.

7. What’s Working and What’s Not

  • Most social media platforms have an analytics section (example: Facebook Insights) that shows you what content is resonating with your audience. Check these insights to adjust your content and increase engagement.

8. Get Inspired through Social Media

  • Follow other school nutrition programs on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to get content inspiration for your channels.

9. Share JSI Content

  • If something that JSI shares on social media is worth sharing on your channels, feel free to click SHARE or RT and pass it along to your

10. Utilize the JSI Resource Center

  • Visit the JSI Resource Center for additional resources to use social media to promote school nutrition programs and increase your social media presence.

 

Make the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice with Help from the Massachusetts Smarter Lunchrooms Movement

The 25 schools currently participating in the Massachusetts Smarter Lunchrooms Movement are implementing many changes to get students excited about school lunch. From improving food displays to including students in menu feedback surveys, these schools are seeing great results in sales and overall student feedback. Big and small changes can make a huge difference in our schools.

At Wareham High School in Wareham, MA, Food Service Manager Christine Laperriere and her school nutrition team added bright new milk coolers with bottled milk (instead of cartons) to appeal to the more mature high school students. The high school has already noticed a 30% increase in milk sales and by placing the white milk in the front of the chocolate milk, sales almost doubled for white milk.

Wareham High School also added clear fruit bowls in an accessible location for students and started to serve canned fruit in clear cups to make fruit more appealing to students. The school added a cart stocked with condiments and silverware that allows for easy relocation to minimize congestion at the school registers.

According to Laperriere, “…having the Smarter Lunchrooms Program come to my school was a great success!  Having fresh eyes with new ideas is always a plus.” She is also working with the Vice Principal to implement a school survey to gather feedback from students and generate new exciting menu ideas for the school.

Wareham High School in Wareham, MA added bright new milk coolers with bottled milk and displays clear fresh fruit bowls

At Locke Middle School, April Laskey, Director of School Nutrition for Billerica Public Schools is implementing exciting changes in the school lunchroom with the help of Framingham State University Intern, Courtney Torres and the Smarter Lunchrooms team. Laskey said, “…. Courtney has been working on sampling fruit with students, engaging students for input, creating healthy information areas within the cafe and assisting the cafe team in creating visually appealing service lines.”

Locke Middle School added special menu days to have staff and students inspire the school’s menu and the team is now updating the labeling and food signage to encourage students to actually read the information on display.

Torres shared, “I’ve been working with the middle school to help try and promote an exciting environment for our students. As a student, I remember that lunch was something that was looked forward to during the day as a nice time to take a break and be with friends. I’m trying to capture that in the students to make them more excited about school lunch.”

Locke Middle School also started using social media to engage students with a #mealonpoint challenge which encourages students to Instagram a meal that includes a vegetable, grain, protein, dairy and fruit and enter to win a fun prize.

Locke Middle School in Billerica, MA created the #mealonpoint Instagram challenge to encourage students to eat a well-balanced meal and Instagram a photo of their healthy choice for the chance to win a prize.

Locke Middle School in Billerica, MA dresses up the lunchroom environment with banners and updated posters to make it fell more student-focused.

To find additional information about Smarter Lunchrooms, please visit these useful links to the JSI’s Smarter Lunchrooms category in the JSI Resource Center.

The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement is a research-based initiative focused on creating sustainable lunchrooms that help guide students to make smarter choices. The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement was established at the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Program and is funded by the USDA ERS/FNS.

Three Graduates Complete The Certificate in Excellence Program at Framingham State University

The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition (JSI) celebrated the graduation of school nutrition professionals Nadine Lorenzen, Elizabeth Simon and Deborah Vaughn on January 11th for their completion of the Certificate in Excellence in School Nutrition Program offered by JSI at Framingham State University (FSU). After two and half years of hard work and dedication, these three graduates were honored by representatives of FSU, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and their loved ones.

The afternoon began with congratulatory greetings and reflections on the program by both faculty and graduates. The Certificate in Excellence in School Nutrition Program is the state-recognized certification that includes five comprehensive undergraduate courses over five semesters in topics designed to increase the competencies, knowledge and skills and advance careers for directors and senior management in school nutrition programs. Classes focus on important topics for school nutrition professionals which include computer applications and operating Food Service systems. Among the many benefits that come from participating in this program, students work on projects that are designed to provide real-life applications to bring back to their schools.

After receiving their certificates of completion, the three graduates shared their experiences from the program and what they took away from their 2.5 years of dedication.

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The Certificate in Excellence in School Nutrition graduation ceremony program.

If you’re interested in applying to the Certificate in Excellence in School Nutrition program, please visit the JSI Website for more information.

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 johnstalker@framingham.edu.