10 Social Media Tips to Promote Your Program

1. Know Your Audience

  • Each social media account will have a different audience. Once you understand the individuals that will be reading and engaging with your posts you can personalize your content to match their interests.
  • For example, your Facebook community may be comprised of parents so you can focus on upcoming nutrition events and happenings in your school but your Instagram following might only consist of students so you can share fun photos, upcoming menus and host photo contests.

2. A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

  • Make sure your content stands out by including photos and videos that will catch your audience’s attention as they scroll through social media channels on their phone or computer.

Play with menu items to ensure they are eye-catching when you share them online.

3 . Bring Attention to Your Social Media Channels

  • If you want to grow your communities, you can promote your social channels online and in your school. Include your social media links on school handouts, lunchroom bulletins and posters. If your school has a main Facebook page or Twitter account, ask them to share links to your nutrition-focused pages in their “ABOUT” section or in upcoming posts.

4. Think Ahead for New Content

  • Use upcoming school events, relevant holidays (March is National Nutrition Month!) and school happenings for new social media content. Stay ahead of ‘what’s coming up next’ so you can post that content when it’s relevant and timely.

    National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

5. Use Social Media to Promote Nutrition with Students

  • Run a social media photo contest to get students excited about nutrition. Encourage students to eat more fruits and vegetables by asking them to share a photo of their lunch plates on Instagram or have them nominate new lunch menu items by using a a hashtag on Twitter (students ages 13 and up).

    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.

6. Engage with your Followers

  • Check your social media accounts for just ten minutes each day and engage, as needed. Social media is an online community and fans and followers will be more inclined to engage with your posts, if you also like and respond to their comments and spark an ongoing dialogue.

7. What’s Working and What’s Not

  • Most social media platforms have an analytics section (example: Facebook Insights) that shows you what content is resonating with your audience. Check these insights to adjust your content and increase engagement.

8. Get Inspired through Social Media

  • Follow other school nutrition programs on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to get content inspiration for your channels.

9. Share JSI Content

  • If something that JSI shares on social media is worth sharing on your channels, feel free to click SHARE or RT and pass it along to your

10. Utilize the JSI Resource Center

  • Visit the JSI Resource Center for additional resources to use social media to promote school nutrition programs and increase your social media presence.

 

Needham Hosts Food Allergies Workshop

Approximately six million children in the U.S have one or more food allergies, and among this population, 16-18% have experienced a reaction in school (National Education Association’s Food Allergy Book). JSI provides the Workshops to Go: Food Allergies to support the food allergy training needs of Massachusetts school staff. This workshop is based upon the newly updated Managing Life-Threatening Food Allergies in Schools that provides staff with strategies to prevent allergic reactions and respond appropriately if an issue was to arise.

On January 31, 2017 JSI hosted the Workshop to Go: Food Allergies for Needham Public Schools. This workshop provided school staff members with training on the difference between a food allergy and food intolerance, the top 8 food allergens, in addition to provided tips on how to search food labels for potential allergens. During the workshop, participants also discussed strategies to manage food allergies in their schools. Some of the workshop activities included:

  • Tips For Avoiding Hidden Food Allergens
  • Identifying Food Allergens
  • Practice Scenarios

Needham Public School Staff Members at Food Allergies Workshop to Go

Find more resources used in the Workshops to Go: Food Allergies in the JSI Resource Center. The Food Allergy Book can be downloaded from the National Education Assciation (NEA) website. Unable to attend a workshop? No problem! JSI offers an online 2-hour training on Food Allergies that you can schedule on your own time! Please visit the JSI website for more information or to schedule a Workshop to Go today!

Keefe Tech Adds Flavor and Flair to School Meals

Do you know the top food trends of your Gen Z (those born after 1995) students? Does your café offer a flavor station for students? Are you engaging all five senses when students enter your café? JSI can help you answer “yes” to these questions and more in the new Infusing Flavor and Flair into School Meals Workshop to Go.  Explore K-12 culinary trends, food presentation techniques, flavor profiles with student appeal, and how to overall enhance school meals.

Keefe Tech school nutrition staff and Chef Janyl

On January 13, 2017 Keefe Regional Technical High School took advantage of JSI Workshops to Go  by bringing the Infusing Flavor and Flair into School Meals workshop directly to the school nutrition staff at their school. Chef Janyl Finnerty, RD led the workshop.

Throughout the workshop, the Keefe Tech school nutrition staff explored key food trends and food presentation strategies. An opportunity to enhance the flavor profiles of their school meals was also achieved through the following activities:

  • Guess the spice or herb based on their scent
  • Create, add, and taste several spice blends
  • Watch, learn and taste with a Tunisian Chickpea recipe demo by Chef Janyl

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food demo recipe, Tunisian Chickpeas, prepared by Chef Janyl

Check out the resources used in the Infusing Flavor and Flair into School Meals Workshops to Go in the JSI Resource Center. Please visit the JSI website for more information. Take a step towards improving your school’s nutrition, and request a Workshop to Go today!

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.

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!

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.



Using Taste Tests to Promote Your School Nutrition Program

Click image to download USDA poster/sticker JPG

Click image to download USDA poster/sticker JPG

Often times simply changing menu options is not enough to increase participation. Promoting new options is a key step in getting students to choose them. Taste tests for students are a fun and interactive way to gauge how receptive students are to a new recipe before offering it on the menu plus it allows you to get useful feedback that can be used to implement changes in the future. Taste testing exposes children to new and different foods. Did you know that a child might have to try a food up to ten or more times before accepting it?

The Ohio Smarter Lunchrooms Movement Taste Testing Getting Started Guide offers tips to increase student participation in taste tests so that you can get the most accurate assessment of student preferences possible.

  • Promote the event with signage to get students excited for taste testing day! Be sure to include appealing features of the item and creative adjectives to describe it.
  • Set up the taste testing station in a place that will prompt students as they pass –don’t forget to use verbal prompts to encourage students to taste.
  • Ensure that the sample item is visually appealing to students. Fresh, colorful, bite size portions are best.
  • Document feedback from surveys, comment cards, student votes, or verbal responses. Click here to download a free taste testing form from USDA.

    Mount Clemens, Michigan Broccoli Carrot Salad samples

 

VT Feed’s Guide to Taste Testing Local Food in Schools suggests developing a food committee of parents and teachers who support the program while ­­­­­other schools have started student clubs that help generate new food ideas that can be used for preliminary testing or to help prepare the food for taste testing day.

Additional taste test resources such as fliers, comment cards, stickers, and posters are available on the Ohio Smarter Lunchroom page. For additional resources on taste testing, visit JSI’s Resource Center.

Left image credit: this image was found on the School Meals that Rock Pinterest page.

Farm to School –Supporting Local Agriculture

apples2Offering locally grown foods in your school nutrition program can help encourage students to eat more fresh vegetables and fruits, increase meal participation, decrease waste while supporting the local agricultural economy and reduce the carbon footprint of the community!

The National Farm to School Network (NFSN) serves as a national networking program focused on facilitating relationships between local farms and communities seeking locally sourced food. Additionally, NFSN helps bring food and agriculture education into school systems and preschools. Since its inception in the late 1990s, participation has grown tremendously. The USDA Farm to School Census indicates that schools across the country invested more than half a billion dollars in local foods in the 2013-2014 school year with more than 42,000 schools involved in farm to school activities.

2016 USDA Farm to School Grants were awarded to four organizations in Massachusetts for training, implementation, and support service including Massachusetts Farm to School Project Bread – The Walk for Hunger in Amherst, Quincy Public Schools, Somerville Public Schools, and The Open Door Food Pantry in Gloucester. Congratulations to all recipients!

The Massachusetts Farm to School Project is the local branch of the NFSN that provides individual assistance to school cafeterias and other institutional food service operations across the state. The MA Farm to School Project also works to promote local food and agriculture education for students and through their Harvest of the Month campaign they are inspiring healthy food choices by encouraging schools to increase student exposure to Massachusetts’ seasonal foods.

“The Massachusetts Farm to School Project seeks to increase access to healthy, locally grown food in schools and other institutions for the good of our children, our farms and our communities.”

MA Farm to School will join a panel in one of the sessions at the upcoming Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit scheduled for May 24th and 25th, 2016! Be sure to visit JSI’s Resource Center for more Farm to School resources.

Make Your Lunchroom Smarter with the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement!

The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement is a research-baseoranges-150x150d 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. JSI has collaborated with the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement since 2012. In association with a Team Nutrition Grant, JSI has partnered with Smarter Lunchrooms to bring relevant professional development resources and technical assistance to fifty schools in Massachusetts since 2014, and the initiative will continue through June of 2016!

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health offered a Wellness Initiative for Student Success training opportunity. For this initiative School Wellness Teams utilized the School Health Index, the Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard, and the Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP). Once the program is completed this year, the participating schools in MA will have the tools to apply for the HealthierUS School Challenge and Let’s Move Active Schools recognition, and are encouraged to sign up to become a USDA Team Nutrition School!

The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement provides an effective set of best practices meant to create an environment that encourages students to make healthful choices. The best practices listed below are easy, and inexpensive or free proven methods of increasing the number of students who make healthy choices in five key areas.

  1. Increase the number of students that select fruit –use signage and verbal prompts to attract attention to fruit and encourage students to take some.
  2. Increase the number of students that select targeted entrée –display creative age-targeted food item names on a poster or menu board outside the cafeteria.
  3. Increase the number of students that select vegetables –create a SNAC (Student Nutrition Action Committee) of students responsible for the naming of and creating signage for veggies.
  4. Increase the number of students that select reimbursable meals –create a health-items-only convenience line stocked with fruits, vegetables, premade sandwiches and salads and lowest-fat/lowest-sodium entrée items.
  5. Increase the number of students that select white milk –white milk should account for at least 1/3 of beverage options displayed in each cooler.

Additionally, you can find many useful links to Smarter Lunchrooms resources in JSI’s Smarter Lunchrooms category in the Resource Center.

Bring More Pulses to Your School Nutrition Program in 2016

2016 is the International Year of Pulses! Pulses are a group of 12 different grainblack bean legume crops including dry beans, dry peas, chickpeas and lentils, they are nutrient dense and consumed by people all over the world. Pulses are highly regarded as very sustainable crops as they require just 43 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of pulses compared with soybeans, which require 216 gallons of water! The four themes of the International Year of Pulses 2016 are food security, nutrition and innovation; market access and stability; creating awareness; and productivity and environmental sustainability.

Pulse crops are a sound source of nutrition while being very inexpensive which puts them among the top most sustainable crops in the world. They are a low-fat excellent source of protein and also contribute vitamins and minerals to the diet such as B vitamins, iron, magnesium and zinc. Pulses are also high in fiber containing both soluble and insoluble fiber known to help control blood sugar levels and aid in digestive regularity. Furthermore, pulses have been found to fix the nitrogen in soil thus contributing to greater soil quality.

Assorted PulsesSchool nutrition programs can help set a trend for students by encouraging pulse consumption with creative kid-friendly recipes like bean and corn salsa and black bean burgers. Pulses can even be included in your school nutrition program’s entrée options every week for Meatless Mondays! Classroom lessons are also available to help teach students about this super food. Click here for a list of 10 great things you can do to help promote the 2016 International Year of Pulses.

JSI’s Back to Basics: Meat Alternates Workshop to Go can help your school nutrition program staff learn how to serve more beans, legumes, and other meat alternates that look good and taste great! This workshop is a hands-on culinary class that will demonstrate easy cooking techniques for meat alternates that you will be proud to serve. Additionally, a new JSI workshop Infusing Flavor and Flair into School Meals will be presented at the SNA of Mass upcoming chapter meetings. This workshop explores K-12 culinary trends, food presentation techniques and flavor profiles with student appeal to enhance school meals and encourage increased participation. Contact your chapter delegate for locations and dates. For inspiration visit the BEANS, PEAS and LENTILS That Rock board on the School Meals That Rock Pinterest page!

Image credit: the images in this post were downloaded from the International Year of Pulses 2016 Photo Gallery at http://iyp2016.org/resources/photo-gallery.