May is Celiac Awareness Month! Educate Your Staff with a Gluten-Free at School Workshop to Go

Did you know that Celiac Disease affects 1% of the population and is the world’s most prevalent genetic autoimmune condition? As May marks the beginning of Celiac Awareness Month, consider scheduling the Gluten-Free at School Workshop to Go for your staff.

This interactive workshop uncovers the basics of gluten, identifies ingredients with gluten and helps attendees learn how find these items on food labels. Using practice scenarios and group dialogue, attendees discuss how to create a safe and nutritious gluten-free school environment for students with diet limitations.

The Gluten-Free at School Workshop to Go covers what to look for on a food nutrition label to avoid gluten for students.

Throughout the two-hour workshop, school staff will participate in hands-on activities like “Gluten or No Gluten” to reinforce their label-reading knowledge. The instructor will walk through specific activities that will prepare school staff for common scenarios they may face as they work to accommodate students with Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity. Additionally, the group will discuss possible gluten-free substitutions for school menus and ensure these ideas adhere to USDA guidelines.

The workshop will also share the latest food labeling laws to identify gluten. You can  learn more about how gluten-free products are labeled by The U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help inform how you label and package products at your school.

Gluten-Free at School resources on the JSI Resource Center

The JSI Resource Center is also full of great “Gluten-Free at School” resources which include links to resources actually shared in the Gluten-Free at School Workshop to Go and other external links that will help staff learn about Celiac Disease, new research and find more information about gluten-free diets.

Please visit the JSI website for more information or to schedule this Workshop to Go today!

Medfield Public Schools Go Back to Basics

Introducing vegetables and fruits to students at an early age will help them to make healthier food choices for a lifetime. Using culinary techniques to make fruits and vegetables more appealing can be an effective way to increase student consumption. With the JSI Workshop to Go: Back to Basics Fresh Vegetables and Fruits training, school nutrition staff learn more about how to use produce from local farms and give canned, frozen, and fresh vegetables a flavor boost. Staff will create new, appealing ways of presenting vegetables and fruits to students, sharpen cutting and peeling skills, and discover the best practices to purchase, prepare, store and freeze produce in this hands-on cooking class.

On February 2, 2017, Medfield Public Schools invited JSI to present the Workshop to Go: Back to Basics Fresh Vegetables and Fruits. Chef Brendan Gallagher began the workshop by asking the staff to taste and compare vegetables prepped in a traditional way to those prepared using an alternative method, such as sautéing, roasting and blanching. It was no surprise that the new culinary techniques were preferred.

Scratch and speed scratch recipes that incorporate USDA foods as well as local fresh produce result in lower food costs for the school nutrition program. During this workshop, the school nutrition staff put their knowledge to work with a hands-on cooking activity where each small group worked as a team to prepare a recipe from scratch.

Interested in more information? Check out the resources used in the Back to Basics: Fresh Vegetables and Fruits 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!

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!

Hingham Public Schools Find Fun at Work with FISH!®

Think about your current job. Is it fun? Do you think there is a way to make it fun? Our Workshop to Go: Find the Fun at Work with FISH!® uses four concepts to help schools create a workplace culture of creativity, innovation, and fun.

Hingham school nutrition staff and the JSI instructor engaged in a FISH® workshop activity

On January 24, 2017, the school nutrition staff of Hingham Public Schools brought the Workshop to Go: Find the Fun at Work with FISH!® to liven up their workplace!

FISH!® uses four concepts including:

  1. Be There: Be physically and mentally present when assisting, managing, or helping another person. It is important to actively listen to understand, and act based on awareness.
  2. Play: Be curious, feel free to innovate, and free to be yourself, all while creating an environment where kids want to be and people want to work.
  3. Make Their Day: Bring recognition and value to all your employees.
  4. Choose Your Attitude: Attitude is everything. When a conscious choice is made to improve one’s attitude, it can have a positive impact on the workplace.

After viewing the FISH!® video, a few activities were offered to engage the nutrition staff of Hingham Public Schools:

  • Show importance of being there, tell a story to your partner that is not there
  • “Playstorm” crazy ideas that could make your workplace better
  • Identify the “Stinky Fish” in your workplace
  • “Let’s make a Day” by giving group members an imaginary token of appreciation

Find out information about all of the JSI Workshops to Go on the JSI website in the professional development section! If you would like a JSI instructor to come to your school to enhance your staff’s knowledge and skills, request a Workshop to Go today!


Northborough and Southborough Public Schools Explore the Essentials of Food Safety

How does your school nutrition program create a culture of food safety? One important step is to assure all school nutrition staff are trained and have a working knowledge of basic food safety principles. Scheduling professional development in food safety for your school nutrition staff and managers is just a click away with an Essentials of Food Safety Workshop to Go presented by JSI. Your school nutrition staff will explore food safety basics, and discuss how to create a culture of food safety in your school. Discover effective strategies to avoid cross contamination, practice proper hand washing, and check and record food temperatures to avoid the danger zone. Utilize these basics to ensure your students are safe when enjoying all of the delicious food that you make!

On January 17, 2017, Northborough and Southborough Public Schools enhanced their food safety techniques with the JSI Workshops to Go: Essentials of Food Safety. In addition to the activities you see below in the photos, several others were incorporated to ensure the nutrition staff could reiterate main points of the presentation including:

  • “What type of hazard am I”?
  • Spot the TCS foods
  • Barriers to food safety

School nutrition staff at the Lincoln Street Elementary School in Northborough discuss a variety of scenarios in the “What Went Wrong?” activity.

Glo Germ hand washing activity showed the audience that hand sanitizer doesn’t remove the germs you think it does!

Find more resources used in the Workshops to Go: Essentials of Food Safety in the JSI Resource Center. JSI can help your school with the Essentials of Food Safety– schedule your training 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!

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.


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.


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 and we will do the rest!

Auburn Public Schools: a Cut Above the Rest!

Chef Tracey Burg, RD

Chef Tracey Burg, RD

On Friday March 11, 2016 I had the pleasure of observing the JSI Workshop to Go Knife Skills: Be a Cut Above the Rest! presented by Chef Tracey Burg, RD at Auburn Public Schools. The school nutrition director at Auburn Public Schools, Janice King, MEd, RDN, SNS, CDE, scheduled the 2-hour workshop as a fun, hands-on way to incorporate professional development for her staff as she hopes to cultivate a culinary culture within the district’s school nutrition program.

During the workshop Chef Tracey reviewed knife-handling skills where she explained the importance of using knife safety precautions. She emphasized that using the proper blade for the task at hand can greatly minimize risk.

Auburn Public Schools School Nutrition Program employees practice newly learned knife skills.

Auburn Public Schools school nutrition program employees practice newly learned knife skills.

Blade sharpening techniques were also reviewed and Chef Tracey explained that a dull knife could sometimes be more dangerous than a sharp one because it requires extra pressure that could cause food to slip.

Chef Tracey also did several culinary demonstrations that were followed by participant practice time. Participants learned how to do various types of cuts including dice, cube, and batonnet. Lastly, Chef Tracey demonstrated fun garnishing techniques that really got participants excited to practice!

Bring this and other workshops directly to your school! Visit JSI’s website to request a workshop today. Materials from this workshop are available on the Cooking Basics and Knife Skills page within the JSI Resource Center. Check out more images from this workshop on JSI’s Pinterest page.

Various garnishing techniques by Chef Tracey Burg

Various garnishing techniques by Chef Tracey Burg

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

Meatless Mondays Movement

The worldwide Meatless Mondays Movement has expanded into many school nutrition Meatless Mondaysprograms in Massachusetts! The Movement is a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns working in collaboration with the Center for a Livable Future (CLF) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to reduce meat consumption. It was initiated in 2003 to support the Healthy People 2010 goal of a 15% reduction in saturated fat in the American diet. The Healthy People 2020 goals also list reduced saturated fat consumption as a goal. Since saturated fat is mainly found in animal products, going meatless is a simple way to cut back on saturated fat consumption.

Many districts across the Commonwealth are now participating in the Movement including Boston, Harvard, Hatfield, Lawrence, Nauset, Wachusett Regional, Walpole and Winchendon Public Schools. Some offer only meatless options on Mondays while others are doing voluntary participation where the students can decide if they want a meatless meal that day. Creative meatless menu options encourage students to choose environmentally friendly meatless meals. Some schools are offering garden fresh salads topped with chickpeas, protein-packed chili, black bean burrito bowls, veggie burgers, baked French toast with scrambled eggs, grilled cheese and tomato soup, and pizza as vegetarian options.

Participating in Meatless Mondays is an opportunity to educate students about the health benefits of eating a more plant-based diet. Consuming balanced meatless meals not only encourages students to commit to healthier eating habits by participating each week, but can also contributes to decreased food costs and reduced carbon footprint at your school nutrition program. The Meatless Mondays Movement has a toolkit with useful resources for starting a Meatless Mondays campaign at your school.

Are you considering joining the Meatless Mondays Movement? JSI can help! JSI Workshop to Go Back to Basics: Meat Alternatives provides ideas on how to serve meat alternatives that are easy, look good and taste great, in a hands-on culinary class setting.