Foxborough Focuses on Customer Service

Foxborough School Nutrition hosted the Exceptional Customer Service Workshop to Go on Monday, November 19, 2018. This workshop brings group activities, a video, reflections, and discussions together for an immersive and interactive learning experience.

Activity: How do we rate?

A group activity to reflect on “how do I deliver great customer service?”

These group activities include:

  • Thinking about your own positive and negative customer service experiences
  • Completing a self-assessment rating worksheet
  • Identifying the customers
  • Brainstorming ways to improve the customers’ experiences.

The goal of this workshop is to enhance customer service skills using concepts from The Guest: Everything You Already Knew About Great Customer Service. In the case of schools, the customers or “guests” are students and teachers, and the path to an effective school  nutrition program is to ensure the customers are satisfied. Upon watching The Guest: Everything You Already Knew About Great Customer Service video and discussing the five “Guest Standards,” participants completed a Guest Action Plan, where they proposed a variety of suggestions as to how they can apply these guest standards to their school nutrition program.

JSI Instructor explains the "Guest Standards"

JSI Instructor explains the “Guest Standards”

Guest Standard #1: Welcome the Guests

Suggestion #1: Create a positive, inviting, and comfortable lunchroom environment for the students by playing music in the lunchroom and/or kitchen.

Guest Standard #2: Remember their Names

Suggestion #2: Use students’ names while they are at the register, since names show up on the screens.

Guest Standard #3: Anticipate their Needs

Suggestion #3: Offer samples of new menu items to students the day before it will be offered and get feedback from students.

Guest Standard #4: Thank them and show them your appreciation

Suggestion #4: Tell them to “have a great day!”

Guest Standard #5: Invite them Back

Suggestion #5: Tell the students about tomorrow’s menu and put up a sign with tomorrow’s meal at the students’ eye level at the exit doors of the cafeteria.

If you would like to schedule an Exceptional Customer Service workshop at your school, visit our website to request a JSI Workshop to Go.

Chef Support for a Build-Your-Own Menu at Your School!

Would your staff benefit from working with a chef in the kitchen when offering a new menu item? The John C. Stalker Institute can help! Consider a Live-Setting Culinary Training this school year.

After completing either the Back to Basics: Mediterranean Flavors or NEW! Latin American Cuisine, you can schedule the JSI chef to work alongside school nutrition staff while they prepare and serve a Build-Your-Own menu at your high school.

Build-Your-Own Mediterranean Pita Pocket

Build-Your-Own Mediterranean Pita Pocket

Choose to feature either Mediterranean Pita Pockets or Authentic Latin American Street Tacos. Check out the Build-Your-Own menus!

Build-Your-Own Latin American Street Tacos

Build-Your-Own Latin American Street Tacos

 

 

Request this innovative Live-Setting Culinary Training, where school foodservice teams build their culinary skills during their regular production hours – no need to wait for a professional development day!

Submit your request online at http://johnstalkerinstitute.org/wtg.

Milton Uses FISH! to Find the Fun at Work

On October 17, 2018, school nutrition staff at Milton Public School participated in the Finding the Fun at Work with FISH! Workshop to Go, presented by Karen Alarie, MEd, SNS from The John C. Stalker Institute. This workshop focuses on the goal of building a creative, innovative, and fun workplace culture. This goal can be accomplished using the FISH! philosophy to empower staff and create passion and engagement at work.

The FISH! Philosophy

Through this workshop, the staff learns how to apply the FISH! philosophy while working at their school.

  1. Be there– Smile, make eye contact and acknowledge students as they walk through the lunch line.
  2. Play– Allow for curiosity and creativity in the workplace to create an enjoyable work environment free of judgment.
  3. Make Their Day– Value and recognize other employees and their hard work.
  4. Choose Your Attitude: Choose who you will be that day and be conscious of that choice since your choice affects everyone.

    JSI Instructor holds an activity about the FISH philosophy

    JSI Instructor leads FISH! activity

The Finding the Fun at Work with FISH! Workshop to Go incorporates fun and interactive games, which were enjoyed by the Milton school nutrition staff.

You can read about additional experiences with this workshop here. If you would like to schedule a Finding the Fun at Work with FISH! workshop at your school, visit our website to request a JSI Workshop to Go.

Dover-Sherborn Gets the Right Scoop

JSI Instructor demonstrates the proper measuring utensils

JSI Instructor demonstrates the proper measuring utensils.

On Wednesday, October 3, 2018, JSI instructor Christanne Harrison presented the Get the Right Scoop Workshop to Go at Dover-Sherborn High School.

This new workshop allows school nutrition staff to discover why and how to use the correct measuring tools for proper portioning to meet the meal pattern, as well as the connection between portion control and cost.

Interactive activities allow the participants to recognize the minimum requirements for each of the five food components with extra practice given to vegetable subgroups. Some of the Making It Count activities are incorporated into the workshop, making it both fun and educational!

Make the Portion Count game from Making It Count

Make the Portion Count game from Making It Count

Enhance your knowledge of school nutrition at this workshop by:

  • Putting your serving size measurement estimation skills to the test
  • Matching meal portion sizes with the appropriate age groups
  • Participating in conversations with colleagues about the categories and subgroups of vegetables

    Vegetable Subgroups

  • Brainstorming the correct vegetable substitutions for a variety of vegetables
  • Reviewing the difference between the minimum daily and weekly requirements for each of the five food components

If you would like to schedule a Get the Right Scoop workshop at your school, visit our website to request a JSI Workshop to Go.

RCCIs Share, Learn, and Network

Nuts & Bolts of School Nutrition Program Agenda

On October 10, 2018, The Nuts and Bolts of School Nutrition Continuation Series offered a session for school nutrition professionals in Residential Child Care Institutions (RCCIs) called “Improving Access for RCCI’s in School Meal Programs.” RCCIs provide non-traditional meal service to accommodate children with varied special needs. This session was designed specifically for RCCI professionals to share, learn and network with others in the state. The session started with an assessment of the needs of the group to understand the challenges and successes experienced by RCCI school nutrition directors.  

Participants were divided into small groups and asked to brainstorm and share the challenges and successes they have faced in their programs. The top three successes identified: 1.) students having positive feedback on the food 2.) healthier eating habits, 3.) improved overall health leading to weight loss and decreased obesity among students. The three major challenges included: 1.) staff training and accountability 2.) food waste and 3.) navigation of the DESE website. Once the challenges were identified, participants conversed, networked, listened, and learned about possible solutions and changes they could implement in their program.

Challenge 1: Staff training is not ongoing and management is not always present. Some staff members incorrectly count meals.

Possible Solutions 1: Encourage all staff members to attend a ServSafe training and offer portion control-related online trainings to new staff such as those offered through Making It Count. Ensure all trainers are able to train direct care employees about meal counting, especially on the weekends.

Challenge 2: There is excessive food waste resulting from food being thrown away by students and food service employees.

Challenge 2: Food Waste

Possible Solutions 2: Provide nutrition education to students and staff about meal planning and portion sizes to help reduce food waste. Take a critical look at how food is seasoned or prepared, the appearance of the food, and what food students are throwing out most often. A possible solution to reduce food waste was shared by one of the participants where students assist in serving and cooking meals behind the line. As a result, these students encourage other students to eat the food they make, which results in less food waste.

Challenge 3: The DESE website, specifically the Document and Reference library, is difficult to navigate.

Possible Solutions 3: Add a search option or categorize the webpage to make it easier to find documents in the online library. Make To-Do lists interactive by providing a direct link to references and forms necessary to complete the paperwork on the lists.

Handouts from this session include: School Meals and RCCIs — Making It Fit and Meal Access and Reimbursement. If you are looking to increase your knowledge about implementing and improving USDA National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program operations, consider participating in a Nuts and Bolts of School Nutrition Continuation Series Program. These sessions are offered online and in person for the 2018 to 2019 school year.

 

JSI Turns 30!

The John C. Stalker Institute (JSI) of Food and Nutrition was established 30 years ago through a partnership between the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Framingham State University. JSI proudly continues the legacy of our namesake Mr. John C. Stalker, a highly respected and influential leader both locally and nationally who devoted his life to the betterment of school nutrition. As the premier provider of professional development for school nutrition programs across the Commonwealth, JSI is pleased to continue to serve Massachusetts schools as a steward of innovative and relevant education. Take a visual tour of the history of the Institute with the JSI Timeline.
 
Visit The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition website and take advantage of the vast array of professional development opportunities and resources offered to Massachusetts schools.

Meeting the Special Dietary Needs of Students

On August 2nd a session titled “Meeting the Nutritional Needs of Children with Special Dietary Requests was presented at the summer conference for the Nuts and Bolts of School Nutrition Programs. Educational Specialists for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education discussed solutions to common questions about serving students with special dietary needs. Featured discussion points included the documentation of dietary requests, qualifying dietary conditions under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and requirements for meal modifications and food substitutions.

One of the first points of the presentation that initiated discussion among audience members involved whether or not medical documentation is necessary for dietary requests. Multiple scenarios were discussed to clarify when medical documentation is and is not required. The relationship between medical documentation and IEPs, as well as meal modifications and the importance of adhering to meal requirements was also included. Please visit the JSI website for more information about the conference and to view the presentation files for the Nuts & Bolts of School Nutrition Programs Conference including the Special Dietary Needs presentation handout.

To create a successful meal accommodation based upon special dietary requests, it is important to keep three main points in mind:
1.) The need for medical documentation varies based on the situation, 2.) There are different types of meal accommodations from food allergies to texture modifications, and 3.) If applicable, ensure modified meal items meet any and all necessary nutrition standards. Be sure to refer to this excellent guide from USDA-FNS: Accommodating Children with Disabilities in the School Meal Programs, Guidance for School Food Service Professionals.

For additional resources about the special dietary needs of children at school please visit the JSI Resource Center: Special Dietary Needs and Making It Count. Additional training opportunities from JSI include Food Allergies and Gluten-Free at School Workshops to Go, Food Allergies On Demand training. The Managing Life-Threatening Allergies in Schools manual is also conveniently available online for reference.

 

Waltham Public Schools Adds Indoor Gardens to Grow Food and Minds

Food Service Director April Liles and Nutrition Coordinator Haylee Dussault turned an Organic Grow Rack into a garden of opportunity for Waltham Public Schools. April spotted EvanLEE ORGANICS’ Grow Racks at the School Nutrition Association conference in October and immediately saw the potential of growing food indoors to engage students and increase nutrition education throughout her district.

Food Service Director April Liles and Nutrition Coordinator Haylee Dussault who spearheaded the addition of Organic Grow Racks to several Waltham Public Schools.

With the dedication and commitment of April and Haylee, five Waltham Public Schools now have these portable indoor gardens. The schools grow plants like herbs, kale, various lettuce varieties and spinach. They are always experimenting with new vegetable plants like the recent addition of radishes to the Waltham High School garden.

The Grow Racks are 4’ wide, 2’ deep and come on wheels. The Racks do not require any outside light because they are powered by timed LED lightbulbs. This functionality allows schools to have flexibility in where they place the Grow Racks and does not require them to rely on the unpredictable New England seasons and weather conditions.

To get started, April and Haylee experimented with one rack at Waltham High School to fine-tune the process. Once they found a successful method, they put together a detailed manual for the other schools to use and in turn, be successful with their indoor gardening. After receiving buy-in from the schools and purchasing the racks, each school selected a “school champion” to spearhead their school’s Grow Rack. April also ran a planning and “set-up” meeting so all schools knew how to integrate these Racks into their schools.

The EvanLEE ORGANICS “Grow Rack” at Waltham High School in Waltham, MA.

April emphasized the importance of starting slowly when beginning a school garden initiative and more importantly she said, “every school needs a champion to make this all a success.”

One of the many benefits of the grow racks is they are very low maintenance for schools. They just require periodic watering and then the actual harvesting of the produce. The school champion may also need to adjust the height of the lights as the plants grow. There is an initial investment in the structure and the soil but after that April reinforced that, “…you can keep reusing the soil for new plants. You just have to buy the seeds to keep planting. Other than that you just have to water them and the lights are on a timer so schools don’t even have to worry about that.”

April said that these racks, “… provide produce for our menus, connect kids to what we are growing and with the cafeteria. It’s a small investment with a huge reward for nutrition education.”

To promote these Grow Racks to students and to make the produce exciting, Haylee prepares samples for students in the lunchroom. The schools also use these vegetables on the lunch menu with signs that say things like, “Try some lettuce from your very own grow rack.”

Produce grown on the Organic Grow Racks are sampled to students to connect them to the school’s gardening efforts.

Long-term, April shared that she has a vision for phase three of these efforts. The first phase was buy-in and the second phase was to get everyone planting and using the Grow Racks. For the third phase, she would like to incorporate the Grow Racks in ongoing school curriculum and provide more educational material and resources for teachers to be able to do just that. She also sees a huge opportunity to use the school’s harvest in fundraising efforts like selling fresh grown herbs to the school community.

If you’re interested in starting or expanding your school garden, whether it be a Grow Rack or another vehicle for growing fresh produce, Framingham State University offers a 4-week online graduate course called “Growing Your School Garden.” Sign-up today and enjoy the convenience of online learning and help prepare for the school year ahead.

For additional resources on school gardening and “going green,” visit the JSI Resource Center.

Exploring the Culinary Versatility of Beans in Schools

Chef Janyl from JSI leading the Bean-a-licious Culinary Demo

Across the country, beans are taking center of the plate on menus, including school menus. To support this popularity, JSI created the Bean-a-licious Culinary Demo conducted by Chef Janyl at SNA of Massachusetts Chapter Meetings. In March, Chef Janyl led the culinary demo at King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham, MA, where school nutrition professionals tasted several delicious bean recipes and discovered first-hand the versatility of beans. Participants also learned how beans can add nutritional value, great flavors and texture to reimbursable school lunches.                                                                            During her presentation, Chef Janyl shared more about the nutritional and environmental benefits of cooking with beans. They are not only packed with nutrients such as fiber but beans are easy to incorporate in a variety of dishes, including recipes from different ethnic cuisines. Beans can serve as either a vegetable or meat alternate for reimbursable school lunches, are inexpensive and a sustainable food. Beans are beneficial to the environment because they can lower greenhouse gases and do not require a ton of water to grow.

Bean dips that were sampled at the March SNA of MA Chapter Meeting at King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham after the Bean-a-licious Culinary Demo hosted by JSI.

Chef Janyl demonstrated how to make different bean recipes like a Green Goddess Hummus and shared several tips on how to maximize this ingredient in a school kitchen. Some tips included:

  • Enhancing the vibrancy of bean dishes with color and different garnishes will make these dishes more eye appealing and exciting for students.
  • You can turn one bean dip dish into another one later in the week by adding additional ingredients like spinach to change up the look and feel of the dish without wasting food.

After the Culinary Demo, attendees sampled six different bean recipes including Barbecue Bean Dip and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus. Participants walked away with all the recipes and a newfound appreciation for this versatile ingredient. JSI also hosted its first Facebook Live event during the chapter meeting so all JSI Facebook fans could view the demo at home or at school. The video is on the JSI Facebook page, so if you missed it live you can watch the whole demo here.

To find the recipes that were sampled during the Bean-a-licious Culinary Demo, please visit the JSI Resource Center. 

Preview of the JSI Facebook Live video capturing Chef Janyl presenting the Bean-a-licious Culinary Demo.

Enroll in the 2018 Certificate in Excellence in School Nutrition Program

Take the next step in your school nutrition career today and sign-up for the Certificate in Excellence in School Nutrition Program this fall. To give you an insider’s perspective, we are sharing how current program participants perceive the program and how the coursework has impacted their careers as school nutrition professionals. Thirty-seven school nutrition professionals have already completed the highly acclaimed program to date. Our graduates give the program high marks, not only for the impactful coursework, but for the expertise and flexibility provided by the faculty, the networking opportunities with fellow students and the skills that are acquired and easily applied in their current school nutrition role.

When considering your career succession, you will be interested to know that this program is the state-recognized certification identified in the hiring standards for school nutrition directors as outlined in section 306 of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The certificate includes five undergraduate courses offered through Framingham State University 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:

See what individuals currently enrolled in the Certificate in Excellence in School Nutrition program have to say about their experience:

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If you’re interested in applying for the 2018 Certificate of Excellence in School Nutrition program, please complete the no-cost online application no later than August 1st.  What are you waiting for? Take YOUR school nutrition career to the next level!