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.

Advance Your Career with The Certificate in Excellence in School Nutrition program

In 2014, the USDA released updated rules for school nutrition professionals to emphasize minimum national professional standards and training requirements. If you’re looking for an opportunity to advance your education, The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition (JSI) at Framingham State University (FSU) offers the Certificate in Excellence in School Nutrition Program which is a  state-recognized professional development program that aims to increase the knowledge and skills of directors and senior management in school nutrition programs.

This program includes five undergraduate courses offered through FSU and blends face-to-face weekend classes with online conference sessions to meet the needs of a working professional. The goals of this Certificate Program are to help school nutrition professionals:

  • Apply the changing nutrition standards to improve the school nutrition environment
  • Meet the financial challenges of a self-supporting school nutrition program
  • Evaluate and implement the emerging trends in school nutrition programs
  • Lead the school district in the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative and join the USDA Healthier US School Challenge

The course Computer Applications in School Food Services is currently underway this semester. This class covers the role of technology and how to maximize its use in child nutrition programs and school food services. Students select a type of technology and identify how it can be applied to their school lunch programs which promotes real-life application for all coursework.

School Nutrition Professionals in The Certificate in Excellence in School Nutrition. Left to right in the front row: Nathan Langevin, Marilyn Haraden, Dawn LaVallee, Beth Simon, Crystal Andrade, Robert Shaheen; Left to right in the back row: Molly Brooks, Pam Whelan, Nadine Lorenzen, Karen McGrail, Mirella Santucci, Deborah Vaughn.

School Nutrition Professionals in The Certificate in Excellence in School Nutrition. Left to right in the front row: Nathan Langevin, Marilyn Haraden, Dawn LaVallee, Beth Simon, Crystal Andrade, Robert Shaheen; Left to right in the back row: Molly Brooks, Pam Whelan, Nadine Lorenzen, Karen McGrail, Mirella Santucci, Deborah Vaughn.

All courses that are included within The Certificate in Excellence program include:

To learn more about this program, please visit the JSI website. If you’re interested in The Certificate in Excellence program, complete the pre-registration form by December 16, 2016 at www.johnstalkerinstitute.org/cert/.

Pursue a Graduate Degree in Nutrition Education at Framingham State University

If you’re interested in pursuing a graduate degree that complements your current role, advances your career goals and offers flexibility in your schedule, Framingham State University offers a Master of Education (M.Ed.) with a concentration in Nutrition Education, specialization in Nutrition Education Specialist degree. The M.Ed. is 100% offered online and was created for the convenience of a working professional. The program includes the advanced study of education, applied nutrition and nutrition education, and requires three electives which allows students to select topics that matter most to their individual career.

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The M. Ed. program requires a minimum of ten courses which include: three education core courses, four nutrition core courses and three specialization courses.

M.Ed. students that complete this program at Framingham State University (FSU) walk away with the ability to:

  • Develop effective nutrition education curriculum for a variety of audiences.
  • Integrate current science-based nutrition issues into food, nutrition, and wellness policies.
  • Design and interpret nutrition education research.
  • Select and utilize appropriate technology for nutrition education.

Applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree, at least one year of professional experience and applications are accepted on a rolling basis. A timed online comprehensive examination is required as the culminating experience.

If this program interest you, please visit the FSU website to understand all required coursework and to learn more about the admissions requirements for The M.Ed. If you have further questions about the program, please contact Graduate Admissions.

 

 

The JSI Resource Center: Your One-Stop School Nutrition Resource Hub

The JSI Resource Center was created to serve as a hub of valuable and reliable school nutrition information to support your ongoing learning and exploration. From recipe inspiration to tips on marketing your school nutrition program and Smarter Lunchrooms, you can turn to the JSI Resource Center to save time and find reliable information which has already been vetted by JSI.

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The JSI Resource Center is a one-stop hub for your school nutrition needs.

The JSI Resource Center is continually updated with new, relevant information and is organized in alphabetical order by category so you can scroll down to find the information you are looking for quickly and efficiently. You can find helpful lesson plans, class handouts, calculators and nutrient analysis tools and links to helpful external websites and more. You can also find presentations and training materials that are used in the JSI Workshops to Go.

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Visit The JSI Resource Center for presentations and training materials that are used in JSI Workshops to Go

Looking for a topic that is not included in the JSI Resource Center?  We are very interested in hearing about it. Please e-mail suggested online resources including the web address to johnstalker@framingham.edu and we will do the rest!

Interested in Hosting a Healthy Cuisine for Kids Workshop?

Healthy Cuisine for Kids is a two-day interactive culinary and nutrition workshop from the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) designed to help school nutrition staff work as a team to prepare, evaluate and present healthy and student-friendly recipes.  Participants will learn new and healthy cooking methods and apply the nutrition principles of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. During the two-day program, staff will receive 16 hours of training with four hands-on culinary labs including:

  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 excite students and provide nutritional value.

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Cooking demonstration by Chef Tracey Burg at a prior Healthy Cuisine for Kids Workshop

If you have been thinking about offering professional development to your staff over a school vacation week or during summer break, you may wish to consider hosting Healthy Cuisine for Kids at your school.  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 is here to help arrange this workshop for Massachusetts schools.

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

If you’re interested in learning more or want to schedule this workshop for your school, please e-mail us at johnstalker@framingham.edu. Please share potential dates for the workshop and include any questions you may have about the training.

 

The A-List: A Resource for School Snacks and Beverages

One of JSI’s most popular online resources for school nutrition is The A-List. This is a comprehensive and ever-expanding list of snacks and beverages that meet the Massachusetts Nutrition Standards of Competitive Food and Beverages in Public Schools and the USDA’s Smart Snacks nutritional standards, whichever is stricter. The A-List includes an online view as well as a downloadable PDF with 80 pages of “acceptable snacks” with accompanying nutritional information as reference. By using this resource, you can ensure your school selects and offers snack products that comply with federal and state guidelines, encouraging healthy eating behaviors and strong growth and development for students.

The A-List is updated weekly and products added within the last 30 days are highlighted in yellow to allow for easy identification of new options. Additionally, an annual re-evaluation takes place at the beginning of every year where every item on The A-List is re-submitted and re-evaluated – this optimizes the integrity of this valuable resource given the ever-changing number of products available for schools.

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All products added within the last 30 days to The A-List are highlighted in yellow.

All A-List products meet the criteria for all levels (Bronze, Silver, Gold and Gold Award of Distinction) of the HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms.

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The A-List also has a downloadable PDF with 80 pages of “acceptable snacks” with accompanying nutritional information as reference.

If a certain item is not listed on The A-List, you can recommend that the manufacturer or distributor enter it into MassNets, the Massachusetts Nutrition Evaluation Tool for Schools to determine if it meets the standards. If the item passes, they can submit their product information for final approval for the A-List.

To view the most up-to-date version of The A-List and to find the downloadable PDF version, please visit the JSI website. We hope you find The A-List to be a valuable resource for your school and as you look to provide nutritious snacks and beverages to students.



4-Week Nutrition, Health and Wellness Online Courses Start October 3rd

School nutrition is constantly evolving and JSI wants to make sure you and your schools are equipped with the latest information and tools to make each year, a healthy and successful one. Starting October 3rd, Framingham State University is screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-1-45-14-pmoffering three 4-week online professional development courses that earn you graduate and continuing education credits and provide you with highly relevant information to create safe and nutritious environments in your schools.

With the convenience of online learning, each course costs $197 and will run from October 3 – October 28, 2016. For those looking for continuing education credits, each course provides 22.5 PDPs for Teachers, 15 PD hours for School Nutrition professionals or 15 CPEUs for Registered Dietitians.

The October courses you can register for include:

  • Diabetes in Schools: An overview of diabetes and its impact in schools for teachers, school nutrition directors, school nurses and other school professionals. Topics addressed in this course include: basic understanding of type 1 and type 2 diabetes; dietary management of diabetes and basic carbohydrate counting; and strategies to create a safe environment for students with diabetes. Participants will explore available resources to promote nutrition, physical activity, and student safety. PRDV #: 7321
  • Hydration and Beverages: An overview of hydration including basic requirements and guidelines for children and adolescents, and hydration needs for student athletes. Topics addressed in the course include: the current beverage environment; common ingredients and additives; beverage guidelines for schools; and the role of beverage marketing and beverages in the school environment. PRDV #: 71021
  • Sweet Solutions: An overview of sugar and non-nutritive sweeteners including guidelines and recommendations for children and adolescents. Topics include: types of sugar and non-nutritive sweeteners, including information about safety; the use of these products in the current food supply; updates on food marketing to children as it relates to sugar; and efforts to reduce sugar consumption in the US and the school environment. The course is intended for school nutrition professionals, teachers, administrators, and school nurses. PRDV #: 70325

To view these courses please visit www.framingham.edu/opdce. Scroll down to the “Nutrition, Health & Wellness” section to view each syllabus and course information.

To register online, simply scroll to the bottom of this page and click on the “Registration” button.  You can also print the registration form and send it to Paula Hogard, Director of Continuing Professional Education and Workforce Development, FSU, 100 State St., PO Box 9101, Framingham, MA, or fax it to 508-626-4030.

 

 

The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement Continues to Spread in Massachusetts

With funding and enthusiastic support from the Office for Food and Nutrition Programs at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition (JSI) is pleased to extend the Smarter Lunchrooms initiative to 25 new schools across the Commonwealth for the 2016-2017 school year. Since May 2015, over 50 Massachusetts schools joined and successfully participated in this program.

The 25 participating schools will 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.

The 2015-2016 program’s success is encouraging as the next wave of this program is about to begin for more Massachusetts schools. For the 2015-2016 program, on average, Smarter Lunchrooms scores increased by 30 percent, fruit sales increased by 9 percent and vegetable sales increased by 51 percent.

To achieve these results, schools implemented simple changes in how they presented food and educated students on healthy food options. Schools used creative engagement tools such as labeling daily fruit options with innovative names, designed signage to call attention to healthy selections and used student surveys to inform future recipe development. Take a look at a few of the low-cost Smarter Lunchroom strategies implemented by schools in Massachusetts.

Whole fruit options are displayed in attractive bowl or baskets at Litwin Elementary School in Chicopee, MA.

Whole fruit options are displayed in attractive bowl or baskets at Litwin Elementary School in Chicopee, MA.

Student groups are involved in creation of artwork promoting menu items at Barrows Elementary School in Reading, MA.

Student groups are involved in creation of artwork promoting menu items at Barrows Elementary School in Reading, MA.

Milton High School in Milton, MA dedicates a menu board to feature the next day’s menu to get students excited about food options.

Milton High School in Milton, MA dedicates a menu board to feature the next day’s menu to get students excited about food options.

To find additional information about Smarter Lunchrooms, please visit this post from the USDA blog and these useful links in JSI’s Smarter Lunchrooms category in the JSI Resource Center.