Amendments to the Massachusetts School Nutrition Standards

On November 12, the Massachusetts Public Health Council approved changes to the Massachusetts School Nutrition Standards for Competitive Foods and Beverages, and these revisions will become effective December 5, 2014. The amendments include adjusting some of the state standards to be more in line with the federal standards. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health will update Healthy Students, Healthy Schools: Guidance for Implementing the Massachusetts School Nutrition Standards for Competitive Foods and Beverages to reflect these revisions.

The John C. Stalker Institute offers three tools to help Massachusetts schools meet both the state and federal competitive food and beverage nutritional standards.

  1. The A-List is an up-to-date and ever-expanding list of vending and snack items that meets both the Massachusetts Nutrition Standards for Competitive Foods and Beverages in Public Schools and the USDA’s Smart Snacks nutritional standards, whichever is stricter.
  2. MassNETS helps schools determine if packaged items, not on The A-List, meet the nutritional standards.
  3. JSI Recipe Tool generates a nutrition facts panel for snack recipes served in the school cafeteria. Once analyzed, these recipes can be easily saved, shared and printed. This online tool helps schools to meet the requirement to make nutrition information available to students for non-packaged items served in the cafeteria.

JSI Resources for Schools 2 (1)

Infographic by JSI Intern Audrey

Visit the School Nutrition Regulations and Standards page in the JSI Resource Center for more information about state and federal standards for foods sold in public schools.

Moving Up! at the SNA of Massachusetts’ 63rd Annual Fall Conference

The School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts held their 63rd Annual Fall Conference and Show, Be Inspired!, this past week. This conference included discussions on creating opportunities in school nutrition, lunch lady heroes, and a look at the most recent updates on the federal and state regulations. View the SNA of Mass. 63rd Conference brochure here.

One of the panels at the conference, Moving Up!, featured inspiring success stories from school nutrition leaders who worked their way up in school foodservice. For example, Allison Johnson originally held a B.S. in Biology from Northeastern University. She later became a part-time manager for a cafe on Cape Cod while in school, obtained an M.Ed. in Nutrition Education, and worked in several public school foodservice settings up to her current position as Foodservice Director for Foxborough Public Schools.

Meanwhile, Nadine Doucette began her career as a substitute cafeteria worker in 2000, later becoming a full-time employee, a baker/manager’s assistant, and finally to her present position as Food Service Manager for the Pembroke Public Schools.

Janelle Madden has worked for 22 years in the private foodservice setting. Madden has also worked as a cafeteria worker, pizza maker, and manager in the Needham Public School system, and is now the Food and Nutrition Service Director for the Dover-Sherborn Public School District.

Moving Up! at SNA of Mass. Conference

The Moving Up! panel. Pictured from left to right: Allison Johnson (Foxborough), Nadine Doucette (Pembroke), Janelle Madden (Dover-Sherborn), Dina Wiroll (Billerica), Catherine Donovan (Hamilton-Wenham), and Karen McGrail (JSI)

Dina Wiroll‘s introduction into school lunch occurred with a phone call to the Billerica Public Schools Nutrition Services Director, regarding her type 1 diabetic son. This eventually led her to transition from private nutrition consulting, to being the Nutrition Services Site Coordinator for the Billerica Public School System.

Finally, Catherine Donovan first earned a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration at the University of Massachusetts. Donovan is currently working towards a Master’s in Education Concentration in Nutrition Education at Framingham State University, and is serving her 14th year as Director of Food Services for the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District.

Professional development builds skills and advances knowledge, often allowing for career advancement. Soon, minimum professional development requirements will be established for school nutrition professionals, as outlined in the USDA’s proposed professional standards. In the Moving Up! discussion, Karen McGrail from the John C. Stalker Institute (JSI) shared the many professional development opportunities available to Massachusetts school nutrition professionals:

Professional Development for Directors

Professional Development for Managers

Professional Development for School Nutrition Staff

In addition, the JSI Resource Center provides a variety of resources for school nutrition professionals, such as nutrition training, school nutrition regulations and standards, and more.

Top Culinary Trends for 2014: Healthy Kids’ Meals

Although meeting the new school nutrition regulations and standards may seem inundating, healthy kids’ meals is not just a trend in schools. According to a survey by the National Restaurant Association, healthy kids’ meals and children’s nutrition are two of the top 2014 culinary trends!

summer saladIn fact, it is encouraging that many of the food and beverage practices in place at schools are reflected in the current culinary trends. Here are some of the top 2014 culinary trends in kids’ meals, according to chefs from the National Restaurant Association Survey:

  • Whole grain items in kids’ meals
  • Fruit/vegetable children’s side items
  • Ethnic-inspired children’s dishes
  • Oven-baked items in kids’ meals (such as baked chicken fingers)
  • Children’s entree salads
  • Low-fat/non-fat milk or 100% juice options on kids’ menus

Providing healthy and tasty school meals can promote school lunch participation. For ideas for nutritious, flavorful school meals, visit the Culinary Institute of America’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Flavors website.

Train your school nutrition staff in culinary skills and on how to make healthy school meals that meet the meal pattern requirements with JSI’s Back to Basics trainings and other workshops. Resources from the JSI Resource Center that may be of interest include Cooking Basics and Knife Skills, Recipes and Menus, and Calculators and Nutrient Analysis Tools.