Make the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice with Help from the Massachusetts Smarter Lunchrooms Movement

The 25 schools currently participating in the Massachusetts Smarter Lunchrooms Movement are implementing many changes to get students excited about school lunch. From improving food displays to including students in menu feedback surveys, these schools are seeing great results in sales and overall student feedback. Big and small changes can make a huge difference in our schools.

At Wareham High School in Wareham, MA, Food Service Manager Christine Laperriere and her school nutrition team added bright new milk coolers with bottled milk (instead of cartons) to appeal to the more mature high school students. The high school has already noticed a 30% increase in milk sales and by placing the white milk in the front of the chocolate milk, sales almost doubled for white milk.

Wareham High School also added clear fruit bowls in an accessible location for students and started to serve canned fruit in clear cups to make fruit more appealing to students. The school added a cart stocked with condiments and silverware that allows for easy relocation to minimize congestion at the school registers.

According to Laperriere, “…having the Smarter Lunchrooms Program come to my school was a great success!  Having fresh eyes with new ideas is always a plus.” She is also working with the Vice Principal to implement a school survey to gather feedback from students and generate new exciting menu ideas for the school.

Wareham High School in Wareham, MA added bright new milk coolers with bottled milk and displays clear fresh fruit bowls

At Locke Middle School, April Laskey, Director of School Nutrition for Billerica Public Schools is implementing exciting changes in the school lunchroom with the help of Framingham State University Intern, Courtney Torres and the Smarter Lunchrooms team. Laskey said, “…. Courtney has been working on sampling fruit with students, engaging students for input, creating healthy information areas within the cafe and assisting the cafe team in creating visually appealing service lines.”

Locke Middle School added special menu days to have staff and students inspire the school’s menu and the team is now updating the labeling and food signage to encourage students to actually read the information on display.

Torres shared, “I’ve been working with the middle school to help try and promote an exciting environment for our students. As a student, I remember that lunch was something that was looked forward to during the day as a nice time to take a break and be with friends. I’m trying to capture that in the students to make them more excited about school lunch.”

Locke Middle School also started using social media to engage students with a #mealonpoint challenge which encourages students to Instagram a meal that includes a vegetable, grain, protein, dairy and fruit and enter to win a fun prize.

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.

Locke Middle School in Billerica, MA dresses up the lunchroom environment with banners and updated posters to make it fell more student-focused.

To find additional information about Smarter Lunchrooms, please visit these useful links to the JSI’s Smarter Lunchrooms category in the JSI Resource Center.

The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement is a research-based 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.

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 Smarter Lunchrooms Movement Continues to Spread in Massachusetts

With funding and enthusiastic support from the Office for Food and Nutrition Programs at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition (JSI) is pleased to extend the Smarter Lunchrooms initiative to 25 new schools across the Commonwealth for the 2016-2017 school year. Since May 2015, over 50 Massachusetts schools joined and successfully participated in this program.

The 25 participating schools will receive hands-on technical assistance from a Smarter Lunchrooms Certified Coach. The coach will visit each school and provide:

  • One 3-hour initial visit to complete a Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard. During this visit, the coach will take photos of the current lunch set-up, present a 30-minute Smarter Lunchrooms training for staff and work with each school to create a Smarter Lunchrooms plan of action.
  • One 2-hour follow-up visit to repeat the Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard and take follow-up pictures of all lunch service changes. The coach will also collect production records and help evaluate each school’s success.

The 2015-2016 program’s success is encouraging as the next wave of this program is about to begin for more Massachusetts schools. For the 2015-2016 program, on average, Smarter Lunchrooms scores increased by 30 percent, fruit sales increased by 9 percent and vegetable sales increased by 51 percent.

To achieve these results, schools implemented simple changes in how they presented food and educated students on healthy food options. Schools used creative engagement tools such as labeling daily fruit options with innovative names, designed signage to call attention to healthy selections and used student surveys to inform future recipe development. Take a look at a few of the low-cost Smarter Lunchroom strategies implemented by schools in Massachusetts.

Whole fruit options are displayed in attractive bowl or baskets at Litwin Elementary School in Chicopee, MA.

Whole fruit options are displayed in attractive bowl or baskets at Litwin Elementary School in Chicopee, MA.

Student groups are involved in creation of artwork promoting menu items at Barrows Elementary School in Reading, MA.

Student groups are involved in creation of artwork promoting menu items at Barrows Elementary School in Reading, MA.

Milton High School in Milton, MA dedicates a menu board to feature the next day’s menu to get students excited about food options.

Milton High School in Milton, MA dedicates a menu board to feature the next day’s menu to get students excited about food options.

To find additional information about Smarter Lunchrooms, please visit this post from the USDA blog and these useful links in JSI’s Smarter Lunchrooms category in the JSI Resource Center.