Culinary Demos at ESE’s ‘New Child Care Meal Pattern Standards’ Training Day

On Wednesday, January 18, 2017 Child and Adult Care Food Program sponsors and providers from across Massachusetts came together for a professional development event hosted by the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office for Food and Nutrition Programs, with culinary demonstration stations presented by The John C. Stalker Institute through a USDA Team Nutrition grant, Massachusetts Children’s Access to Meals Planned Smart (MassCAMPS).

After lunch participants divided into four groups that rotated through four culinary stations. Each station demonstrated a reimbursable recipe including the cooking techniques to achieve the best product possible. All demonstrated recipes and healthy cooking techniques represented methods that met a new standard or best practice of the updated CACFP Meal Pattern.

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The next ESE ‘New Child Care Meal Pattern Standards’ Training Day will be Tuesday, March 14, 2017 in Westborough, MA. If you are a CACFP sponsor or provider, you are invited to sign up to attend this training. For additional resources and information and about these and other CACFP trainings, visit the MassCAMPS webpage: www.johnstalkerinstitute.org/masscamps/

Massachusetts Team Up for School Nutrition Success

teamup1On November 9th and 10th school nutrition directors from across Massachusetts came together for a Team Up for School Nutrition Success Mentoring event, sponsored by The Institute of Child Nutrition, and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE), and hosted by The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition. Mentors and participants worked together over the two days to share ideas, experiences, and challenges they’ve faced in school nutrition. The two-day event included breakout sessions that covered financial management, increasing participation and menu planning. These sessions gave participants the opportunity to share ideas, concerns and resources with their peers.

The event provided an opportunity for the sharing of creative solutions through panel discussions. Here are some of the best practices shared:

  • Student sampling surveys where students place empty sample cups into one of two buckets labeled with either a thumbs up or thumbs down symbol. This is an easy method for collecting feedback without the added work of synthesizing survey results. It is a good visual tool to see if the majority of students liked or disliked a recipe. – Crystal Andrade, School Nutrition Director, Old Colony Regional High School, teamup2Rochester, MA
  • It CAN be done! Open your mind, think outside the box. “Attitude is everything – you have to cook with love and serve with love.” – Jacki Dillenback, School Nutrition Director, Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District, Orange, MA
  • Incorporate recipes from staff members into the menu. It increases diversity of foods served and the staff are proud to serve these foods. – Jill Lucius, School Nutrition Director, Fitchburg Public Schools, Fitchburg, MA
  • Focus on communication with parents, students, and the community, about who you are and what you do. – Ruth Griffin, School Nutrition Director, Needham Public Schools, Needham, MA

teamup4After sharing ideas and best practices, participants were encouraged to set SMART goals for their own district. Participants worked with mentors to create an action plan to turn newly learned strategies and goals into actionable steps forward.

Participants’ Key Strategies:

  • Meet with principals to discuss methods to increase breakfast participation.
  • Increase participation for lunch by using Smarter Lunchrooms strategies.
  • Try Offer Versus Serve in the classroom.
  • Acquire more grill top space in high schools so that more grilled items can be offered daily.
  • Establish a water-use conservation program by the end of the school year.

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The event concluded with a general session appropriately entitled, Going Forward, where ESE staff members echoed the importance of a plan of action moving forward and next steps. Participants were encouraged to continue connections with peers and to take this fresh energy back to their districts and use it to move forward to accomplish their SMART goals. “If you’re open to it, you always walk away with something new.” Sally Teixeira, ESE. The event was very positively received by participants and mentors alike. Here’s what they had to say:

“It’s been excellent. I’ve only been a director for two months so I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how friendly everyone is and how willing they are to help.” – Elissa Maunus, SND, Sutton Public Schools, Sutton, MA

“This opportunity to network and brainstorm about situations and challenges we all face has been super productive.” – Danielle Collins, SND, Chelmsford Public Schools, Chelmsford, MA

“This was the BEST program I have ever attended.  I would recommend it to all Food Service Directors, large and small districts, it brought us together like no other training had done before. – Diane Mikulski, SND, Abby Kelley Foster Charter Public School, Worcester, MA

Interested in additional information and resources? Check out Team Up for School Nutrition Success.

Congratulations to the NEW LIFE Program Graduates!

On June 1st, 16 school nutrition professionals graduated from Nutrition, Education & Wellness: Leadership Institute for Excellence (NEW LIFE). These graduates participated in a seven-session knowledge and skill-building program designed to change the way school nutrition directors think and act as leaders. Additionally, they participated in online discussions to network and brainstorm about various topics. The knowledge learned and shared over the last year will serve all participants well in a time when school nutrition has a multitude of demands and new challenges.

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Heather Brunette
Jo-Ann Cavanagh
Anthony Grein
Gail Koutroubas
Dawn LaVallee
Lisa Leon
Tara Lightbody
Dianne Mucci
DebraLee Mugford
Heather Shastany
Hillary Standiford
Tess Sousa
Heather Torrey
Deborah Vaughn
Judy White
Dina Wiroll

To view more photos from the NEW LIFE graduation, visit our Pinterest page The JOHN STALKER INSTITUTE (JSI) Rocks.

This post was written by Robyn DeCiero, NEW LIFE Program Coordinator.

2016 Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit: Day Two

Dr. Mitchell D. Chester, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Welcomed the audience

Dr. Mitchell D. Chester, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Welcomed the audience

On May 25th, day two of the annual Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit, the day began with a welcome message from Mitchell D. Chester, EdD, Commissioner of Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The morning keynote given by Juliana Cohen, ScM, ScD, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Nutrition at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, discussed Successful School Meals: Strategies to increase Selection and Consumption. During this presentation Dr. Juliana Cohen discussed some of her published research in which a significant increase in fruit and vegetable selection and consumption in schools that had chefs long term (seven months) was found. She concluded by pointing out that many of the benefits highlighted in her research are only seen after students have had time to acclimate to the new food choices available and when they are given adequate time to consume their meals.

Dr. Juliana Cohen discussed the strategies to increase selection and consumption

Dr. Juliana Cohen discussed strategies to increase selection and consumption

Breakout sessions continued into day two of the summit in the areas of Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child, Procurement, and Building Human Capital. Conference participants applied learned concepts to their districts by creating an action plan for how to succeed in implementing new ideas or changes to their programs.

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Robert Leshin addressed the audience during the News You Can Use presentation

After lunch Robert Leshin, MPA, Acting Director of the Office for Food and Nutrition Programs, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, presented News You Can Use in which he discussed the year in review including MA trends in the National School Lunch Program.

Visit the 2016 Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs webpage for presentation files from the summit. To view more photos from the conference, visit our Pinterest page The JOHN STALKER INSTITUTE (JSI) Rocks.

2016 Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit: Day One

Dr. Lori Coakley discusses ideas from participants during a breakout session

Dr. Lori Coakley discussed participant ideas during a breakout session

On May 24th school nutrition professionals from Massachusetts came together for the annual Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit at Four Points by Sheraton, Norwood. This annual conference sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition promotes healthy students and healthy school nutrition programs.

The conference kicked off with a welcome from Robert Leshin, MPA, Acting Director of the Office for Food and Nutrition Programs, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Karen McGrail, Med, RD, LDN, Director of the John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition.

Lori Coakley, PhD, Professor of Management, Bryant University, gave the morning keynote Leading Engagement: Transforming Your Human Capital One Employee at a Time where she discussed the ins and outs of employee engagement and gave tips on how to capitalize on employees’ potential. Later Dr. Coakley dove deeper into this topic in her morning and afternoon breakout sessions.

The lunch keynote, Leadership in the Kitchen: Moving Towards a Culture of Ongoing Learning, was given by two presenters from MassTERI who discussed work culture by first comparing it to a garden. They used the following analogy in their explanation…as a gardener (supervisor) you cannot give all your attention to just the plants (employees), you must also consider the ecosystem (culture) since the two affect each other. They continued, “In the kitchen, some things are out of your reach when it comes to affecting the culture.” They also provided several examples of things you CAN control that will positively impact the culture including: how you choose to present policy change, using effective communication, managing conflict by determining what the problem is, using adult learning techniques, and striving to accommodate a variety of learning styles when teaching employees.

Presenters from MassTERI discuss workplace culture and adult learning

Presenters from MassTERI discussed workplace culture and adult learning

Visit the 2016 Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs webpage for presentation files from the summit. To view more photos from the conference, visit our Pinterest page The JOHN STALKER INSTITUTE (JSI) Rocks. 

Going Green with School Gardening

tomato plantSchool gardens are continuing to grow in popularity due to their array of benefits to both education and school nutrition programs. With seemingly endless opportunities for garden-based educational lessons in any academic subject, and harvests being incorporated in school meals, school gardens are sprouting up in districts across the state.

Brendan Ryan, the school nutrition director at Framingham Public Schools, is a forerunner in school gardening. He first implemented the district’s admirable 50-yard garden 6 years ago. Each year in May the seeds are planted and the garden is run entirely by students from various clubs, the honors society, and some are even hired as student lead growers who take care of the crops throughout the summer. All food grown in the garden is used to supplement the school nutrition program and provides students with locally grown food.

Are you interested in school gardening? FSU is offering a 4-week online Growing Your School Garden course that starts July 11 and goes until August 5. Click here for registration information. You can also find many useful resources on the Go Green for Schools page in the JSI Resource Center. If gardening isn’t an option for your district, farm to cafeteria is a great way to get locally grown food into your school nutrition program.

Get a Jumpstart on Professional Development this Summer!

As part of the Final Rule for the Professional Standards for All School Nutrition Program Employees the required training hours for school nutrition employees will increase for the 2016-2017 school year, effective July 1, 2016.

Beginning school year 2016-2017, annual continuing education/training requirements are as follows:

  • All directors must get at least 12 hours
  • All managers must get at least 10 hours
  • All other staff who work an average of at least 20 hours/week must get at least 6 hours
  • Part-time staff who work <20 hours/week must get at least 4 hours

The John C. Stalker Institute offers many different options for continuing education and training for directors, managers and staff.

Chef Tracey Burg, RD presents at Healthy Cuisine for Kids

Chef Tracey Burg, RD presents at Healthy Cuisine for Kids

Healthy Cuisine for Kids
Healthy Cuisine for Kids is a two-day training for school nutrition staff. The training is hands-on and covers culinary and nutrition topics such as healthy cooking methods and nutrition principles of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Participants will work in teams to prepare, evaluate, and present healthy, student-friendly recipes. Healthy Cuisine for Kids will take place at Cambridge Public Schools on August 4th and 5th from 8:00am – 5:00pm. Register here by July 15th.

Nuts & Bolts of School Nutrition
Nuts & Bolts of School Nutrition, a yearlong series of face-to-face and online trainings, is designed for school nutrition directors in Massachusetts to strengthen their knowledge of school nutrition program requirements. Education specialists from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office for Food and Nutrition Programs will provide essential training on meal benefit issuance, resource management and food service operations. The series kicks off on August 2-4th with 3 days of training at Framingham State University from 8:00am – 3:30pm.

Management Institute
The Management Institute is a three-day institute for school nutrition managers covering leadership, financial management, personnel management, communication, marketing and nutrition. The Management Institute is taking place at the Devens Common Center in Devens, MA on August 16-18 from 8:00am – 4:00pm. Be sure to register by July 29th.

Take advantage of these August offerings to get a jumpstart on 2016-2017 professional development for you and your team! Visit JSI’s website for more information on these and other offerings.

Swansea Keeps Lunch Fresh and Exciting

bakedpotatoes2On Friday April 11th I visited Gail Oliveira, RD, LDN, SNS, school nutrition director of Swansea Public Schools to observe their school nutrition program as part of the lab experience for my Framingham State University Foodservice Systems class. Swansea Public Schools is an account of Chartwells.

During my visit Gail expressed the simplicity of menu planning with the menu development program Webtrition2, which is approved by the USDA to meet the school nutrition guidelines. The efficiency of the program allows Gail more creative freedom as she able to easily make changes and incorporate new concepts. She often collaborates with the Kitchen Manager, Chef Karen for new and exciting menu ideas such as baked stuffed broccoli and cheese potatoes (shown on the right).

The serving line at the district’s high school was recently updated to accommodate several new serving stations including a very popular deli counter where students can request customized wraps and paninis for lunch. Other popular lunches include fruit and yogurt parfaits, sweet and sour chicken with brown rice and stir-fry veggies, and homemade pizza.

Visit JSI’s Resource Center for recipe and menu ideas! JSI’s workshop Infusing Flavor and Flair into School Meals is being offered at the SNA of Mass Chapter Meetings. In this workshop K-12 culinary trends, food presentation techniques and flavor profiles with student appeal are explored to encourage increased participation. Contact your chapter delegate for locations and dates for this workshop.

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Colorful fruits and veggies on the serving line

Grilled turkey and cheese panini with spinach and tomato

Grilled turkey and cheese panini with spinach and tomato

Sweet and sour chicken with brown rice and stir-fry vegetables

Sweet and sour chicken with brown rice and stir-fry vegetables

Fruit and yogurt parfait

Fruit and yogurt parfait

Homemade pizza

Homemade pizza

Stepping Up to the Plate

SteppingUp1On Wednesday April 6, 2016 the Boston Globe in collaboration with Let’s Talk about Food hosted a two-hour session, Stepping Up to the Plate: Creating Tasty, Healthy and Affordable School Lunches, at the Boston Public Market.

The evening featured demonstrations and discussions around local successes as seen at Fenway High School in Boston. Earlier this school year Fenway High, in collaboration with Project Bread, transformed their kitchen into a test kitchen where Chef Guy Koppe and Chef Gaitskell Cleghorn Jr. have been whipping up budget-friendly, exciting and healthy recipes that students have been extremely receptive to.

Culinary demonstrations from Project Bread’s Chef Guy Koppe, and owner of local restaurants Rialto and TRADE Chef Jody Adams showcased the simplicity with which tasty, healthy and affordable lunches can be made. During the demos Chef Jody Adams noted the importance of incorporating umami flavor into dishes to give consumers a satisfied feeling. Two ways to add umami flavor to school lunches is to start by browning garlic, or to add tomatoes to the dish. Students from Fenway High’s Culinary Club served as a taste test panel and confirmed that both chefs’ creations were a hit.
IMG_1637Later in the evening Brendan Ryan, the school nutrition director of Framingham Public Schools closed out the session with a discussion of Framingham High School’s extensive courtyard garden that produces fresh produce for the school nutrition program and gets students involved. Brendan mentioned that in his experience, K-12 students are more likely to enjoy dishes that are made with five ingredients or less.

Visit JSI’s Resource Center to get information on how you can bring a chef or garden to your school nutrition program!

Highlights from the Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit – May 25

Join school nutrition directors and business managers from across the Commonwealth at the 2016 Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit on May 24th and 25th! On May 25, 2016, keynote speakers will present General Sessions in the morning and afternoon. In the morning, learn about strategies to increase selection and consumption with Juliana Cohen, ScM, ScD, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

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During the afternoon keynote session, learn about news you can use with Rob Leshin, Acting Director of the Office for Nutrition, Health and Safety of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. This session will open with greetings from Aleshia Hall-Campbell, Acting Executive Director of the Institute of Child Nutrition.

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The 2016 Summit will be held at Four Points by Sheraton, Norwood. Attendees can earn up to 6 hours of professional development each day of the Summit, don’t forget to register by May 6th!