School Nutrition Programs across the Commonwealth are working diligently to ensure that students receive fresh meals and learn about new food topics, while also helping serve their community members. Check out the recent news highlighting Massachusetts schools!
In February, Boston mayor Marty Walsh discussed My Way Café, which is a new program being implemented into many Boston schools to deliver fresh food to young children. The program allows students the opportunity to choose delicious and nutritious meals cafeteria-style in their schools.
In the February edition SNA magazine, Billerica Public Schools were highlighted for their Food Market – a coordinated program promoted by the BPS School Nutrition department. The Market is open to all residents of Billerica and features a selection of 15-20 different fresh and shelf-stable items and serves around 1,600 community members.
School Nutrition Programs across the Commonwealth are working diligently to ensure that students receive fresh meals, access to fruits and vegetables, a healthy breakfast to start their day, and lessons in eating locally – among many other things. Check out the recent news highlighting Massachusetts schools!
In September, Andover public schools were recognized for exemplary school lunch programs. A national survey of school meal program directors found that Andover excelled in increasing awareness of allergy-safe recipes and locally sourced ingredients for school menus. A major advancement that has been made includes installing a mobile app that allows high school students to order their lunch, allowing for shorter wait time for lunches.
This school year, Dartmouth is making great strides to spice up school lunch with “fun lunch” options. The district now uses a menu program called Nutrislice, which allows users to view menus for each school and obtain calorie and nutrition facts. Elementary schools have been introduced to “fun lunches” and provide access to unlimited fruits and vegetables. At the middle and high schools, additional access to fresh grill options along with the many healthy menu items available.
On April 29, National Honor Society students at Framingham High alongside Food Service Director Brendan Ryan, teachers and families prepared the Saxonville school garden. This is the eighth year of the garden and last year the harvest helped make 1,000 gallons of tomato sauce and 10 gallons of basil sauce to feed 9,000 students across the district.
Congratulations to Brockton Public School as a recipient of the 2017 Turnip the Beet Awards! USDA awards annual Turnip the Beet awards to honor schools doing incredible work to offer nutritious and appealing summer meals to children and in turn, help meet the needs of the local community. If you’re interested in nominating a school for the 2018 awards, information will be posted later this year.
At Edison K-8 in Brighton, MA some students receive weekly Boost Bags on Fridays. These kits include several food items so students experiencing food insecurity first-hand can have proper nourishment through the weekend. Teachers see first-hand how homelessness and hunger impact students in the classroom and see the positive impact this program has on their student body.
Third, fourth and fifth graders from Whitin Elementary School went on a field trip to Whittier Farms in Sutton, MA accompanied by a very special guest; professional football player Derek Rivers of the New England Patriots. This trip was awarded to students after winning the Fuel Up to Play 60 Back to School Challenge. Students learned how the milk they drink is produced to provide great nutritional value and about the everyday responsibilities of a dairy farmer.
Dover Sherborn made the news after hosting JSI’s first-ever Live Setting Training on April 5th. The school served a Mediterranean-themed “Make Your Own Pita Pocket” lunch alongside JSI’s Professional Chef Brendan Gallagher. This training incorporated the lessons, flavors and recipes from the “Back to Basics: Mediterranean Flavors Workshop to Go” and featured them live for students to enjoy in the lunchroom.
Dedham Schools just received a valuable grant to expand their school breakfast program. This grant, which was from Amazon for $7,500, was used to purchase a breakfast and milk cart to serve breakfast in schools that do not have a cafeteria. With this new equipment, breakfast can be delivered to students in the classroom so they aren’t hungry in the morning and can start their day on the right foot.
To celebrate National Nutrition Month, Medway Middle School hosted a “grain-sampling” event for students to discover different grains. The school nutrition team also created lunch dishes featuring these items so students can see how these grains can be incorporated in meals and try then in their lunches. All recipes were shared with the parents after the event.
On April 2nd, Mayor Marty Walsh and Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang joined the official launch of The “My Way Café” program at Bradley Elementary school in East Boston. This program was piloted for the past year and it allows schools with in-service kitchens to prepare healthy meals for other Boston schools that do not have kitchens to increase school lunch offerings throughout the city.
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.
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.
Oldham Elementary School in Norwood, MA was recently featured on CBS Boston for prioritizing real food in their lunchroom in collaboration with Jared Becker, Boston-based regional executive chef for Chartwells K-12. This school made several changes to their menu and their kitchen to serve food that not only tastes good but provides the nourishment students need to be successful in school.
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.
The end of the school year may now be in sight, but school nutrition programs and professionals are going full steam ahead. Our recent review of the news shows that SNP staff are sharing best practices, promoting their programs, and connecting school food to the local suppliers and environment:
As part of an annual event held by the Massachusetts Action for Healthy Kids (MAHK), Billerica school nutrition professionals showed off their morning-meal skills by serving breakfast at the State House to roughly 100 state legislators, school lunch administrators, and students from Quincy, reports Wicked Local Billerica.
Former Somerville food service director, Mary Jo McClarney (now with USDA), highlighted her experience successfully introducing healthier foods to Somerville schools when she spoke in New York about recent and upcoming changes to school-nutrition standards. Read the recap from the Times Herald-Record.
Ezra Baker School in Dennis is forging ahead with great Farm-to-School initiatives: preparing to plant a Three Sisters garden (funded with the first Farm-to-School Initiative federal grant in Massachusetts); installing a salad bar featuring local produce; and hosting a locally-sourced meal event for families. Read the article from Cape Cod Online.
School nutrition programs in Massachusetts are working hard to meet the challenges of expanding school breakfast, reducing food waste, and more, according to our roundup of recent news. Schools and districts are also working to overcome obstacles, and many are being recognized for their efforts:
Food service directors from Ashland, Framingham, Marlborough and Milton weighed in on the challenge of boosting school breakfast participation in an article from MetroWest Daily. Successful approaches appear to be those tailored to the unique infrastructure of each school.
Let’s Move spotlighted Somerville Public Schools as a model for farm-to-school programs on their blog. SPS has implemented the program in K-12 Food & Nutrition Services to increase students’ interest in healthier food choice.
Let’s Move also featured Natick’s Memorial Elementary School as an Active Schools success story. Their “BOKS” program brings before-school exercise sessions and during-school “activity bursts” thanks to a collaborative effort by parents, teachers, and/or staff members.
The Eagle Tribune reports that new school-food guidelines are resulting in increased food waste in Methuen schools. Director of school nutrition services Mike Vespa said staff input and trial-and-error to fine-tune menus has cut down on food-waste volume compared with the beginning of the school year.
We know your school or district has been busy this year, and we’d love to hear about it in the comments, or submit your story to be featured among JSI Success Stories!