Dover Sherborn Bring Mediterranean Flavors to the Lunchroom

A lunch tray from the Live-Setting Culinary Training at Dover Sherborn Regional Middle and High School filled with a pita pocket, hummus, melon mint salad, mujaddara, tzatziki and other Mediterranean add-ons.

On April 5th, students at Dover Sherborn Regional Middle and High School loaded up their trays with tabbouleh, hummus, shawarma and more as part of a “Build Your Own Pita Pocket” lunch. This special lunch was created through JSI’s first ever Live-Setting Culinary Training, which brings the “Back to Basics: Mediterranean Flavors Workshop to Go” to life. With the help of JSI’s Chef Brendan Gallagher and the phenomenal school nutrition team at Dover Sherborn, the schools were able to take the concepts and Mediterranean recipes from the Workshop to Go and actually prepare them live for all students, across all four lunch periods.

The schools prepared a robust menu packed with so many tastes of the Mediterranean. The menu included chicken shawarma or hummus, Mujaddara (lentils and rice), melon mint salad and the add-ons were baba ganoush, tzatziki, tabbouleh and chopped lettuce, tomato and onion. Although these menu items were new to many students, remarks of “Can we do this more often?” and “Can we have this everyday?” could be heard among all grade levels navigating down the Mediterranean section of the tray line. At the end of the day, the school sold 250 of the Mediterranean lunches out of the typical daily 600 lunches.

Norah, the dietitian at Dover-Sherborn Regional Middle & School preparing samples of tzatziki for the students to try.

Janelle Madden, the Food Service Director at Dover Sherborn Public Schools said, “This was absolutely, no doubt a perfect match for our program. We’re always looking for ideas to make food from scratch.” If there were any leftovers once the lunch periods were over, the team was going to repurpose items like the hummus for the power pack lunches the following day.

To attract students to the Mediterranean menu items, the school posted signage and white boards in front of the doors leading to the kitchen. They also loaded up sample trays of the baba ganoush and tzatziki sauce to have students try the flavors before deciding on their meal choices.

Signage in the lunchroom to promote the Mediterranean menu options for lunch.

The Dover-Sherborn Assistant Cook Kim said, “Kids went in to today with an open mind. If kids have new ideas, we want them to bring them to the table. We’re willing to try them!”

Chef Brendan Gallagher said, “It’s exciting to see the workshop in action with the students and to also hear great feedback from them, that’s even better.” He also shared that this menu, “… brings new energy and excitement to the students and it’s also helpful for the staff to realize kids are more adventurous than they think with food.”

If you want your school to participate in this innovative culinary training, please submit an online request. Completion of the Back to Basics: Mediterranean Flavors workshop is required to host the Live-Setting Culinary Training. A professional development day is not needed because the same Mediterranean recipes are prepared and served in the lunchroom in real-time alongside a JSI chef.

Mediterranean add-ons for the “Build a Pita Pocket” lunch

How the Mediterranean Diet Can Enhance Your School Menu

The Mediterranean Diet was just ranked #1 in the Best Diets Overall category by US News and World Report. With so many unique and popular flavors to add to your school’s menu, you may be considering the possibility of offering Mediterranean cuisine to your school cafeteria.

The popular Mediterranean diet prioritizes fruits, vegetables and whole grains as the core components of each meal. These food items provide important vitamins and minerals that help students’ growing bodies, provide the necessary carbohydrates for long-lasting energy and ensure ample fiber for healthy digestion. Mediterranean cuisine encourages heart-healthy fats, vegetarian sources of protein and fresh herbs and colors that make dishes exciting and flavorful. Overall, the diet promotes a healthy weight for kids and supports proper development.

Although some of the history of the Mediterranean diet is lost with time, it’s origin stems from the Mediterranean basin. This diet has been consumed since ancient times and continues to be a popular choice today. Some countries that are part of the Mediterranean today include Greece, Italy, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Morocco. Although they each have their own cuisines, there are many similarities in ingredients and flavor profiles. Some examples of typical Mediterranean dishes include hummus, baba ganoush, couscous, falafel and kebabs. Herbs such as mint, basil, thyme, parsley and dill are staples in these recipes.

If you are interested in incorporating Mediterranean flavors and dishes in your school lunchroom, JSI is excited to offer two NEW! culinary workshops this school year: Back to Basics: Mediterranean Flavors Workshops to Go and an innovative Live-Setting Culinary Training.

The Back to Basics:  Mediterranean Flavors is a 3-hour hands-on Workshop to Go designed to advance the culinary skills of school nutrition staff while they prepare popular Mediterranean recipes that students will love. Participants explore different Mediterranean tastes that are rich in history and flavor and learn how to incorporate them into various meal components.

JSI’s newest innovative training is the Live-Setting Culinary Training which is open to five schools this school year once they have completed the Back to Basic: Mediterranean Flavors workshop. This workshop requirement is necessary because same Mediterranean recipes are prepared and served in the lunchroom in real-time alongside a JSI chef. No professional development day needed! A pilot of the Live-Setting concept was tested at Milton High School in June 2017 and we are thrilled to expand this opportunity using Mediterranean cuisine.

If you’re interested in scheduling a Back to Basics: Mediterranean Flavors Workshop you can make an online request. For additional resources on the Mediterranean diet, you can visit the JSI resource center.

 

 

JSI Brings Professional Communications to the SNA of MA Chapter Meetings

On Thursday, November 9th, 2017, Keefe Technical High School hosted the SNA of MA Chapter Meeting which featured the newly updated JSI workshop Professional Communications presented by Lynnea Gleason.

Professional communications was designed to strengthen existing skills, navigate through difficult topics, and discover ways to strengthen the communication lines of school nutrition programs.

Key learning objectives include:

  • Identifying effective communication skills for adults and children
  • Practice handling sensitive situations in the work setting
  • Discuss ways to overcome communication barriers

This workshop features many activities to get participants out of their seats and reflecting on these objectives to promote success within their daily operations. Most of our days are spent at work, so having enjoyable relationships and a mutual understanding of one another creates a positive environment and can make the day fly by! Such synergistic productivity not only benefits your fellow employees, but also the children who are getting fed.

Consistency is a key component in school meal programs to control food costs and meet meal requirements. One of the fun and interactive activities, the PB & J sandwich activity, that took place during the workshop showed how messages can be interpreted in many different ways. Even the instructions for making a simple PB & J sandwich require good written communication to properly convey the message the way you want it to be understood. The PB & J activity effectively reinforced the key learning objective and was a hit with the audience!

JSI instructor leads the PB & J activity.

To learn more about about professional communications, visit SNP: Effective Communication for a compilation of links provided in the JSI Resource Center.

Webster Schools Host Food Allergy Workshop

On Wednesday, September 20, 2017, JSI instructor and registered dietitian Alison Doak presented the Food Allergies Workshop to Go at the Webster Public Schools. The workshop provided an in-depth, interactive lesson for school nutrition staff about food allergies, including life-threatening allergies. Participants learned important warning signs of an allergic reaction, how to identify allergens on a food label, how to make appropriate substitutions, and many other vital pieces of information to integrate into their daily operations.

 

FA8

Shown above is Alison Doak, MS, RDN, LDN, during the Food Allergy workshop.

Key objectives from the workshop include:

  • List the top 8 food allergens
  • Recognize food allergy symptoms
  • Read food labels to identify food allergens
  • Identify allergen-free menu substitutions
  • Differentiate between a food allergy and food intolerance
  • Describe ways to avoid cross contact at school
  • Discuss strategies to create an allergy safe environment at school
  • Identify the steps of an Emergency Response Plan
yogurt

Find those food allergens!

If you would like to schedule a Food Allergy workshop at your school, visit our website to request a JSI Workshops to Go. While there, you can find out about our 12 other workshops, too!

To learn more about food allergies, check out the JSI Resource Center. Additionally, the Managing Life-Threatening Allergies in Schools manual contains a wealth of information regarding food allergies and guidelines to create a multidisciplinary approach for allergies in your schools. In addition, the USDA has just released in 2017 the latest guidance on Accommodating Children with Disabilities in the School Meal Programs.

Two NEW! Culinary Workshops Add Mediterranean Flavors to Your School’s Menu

Looking for a new culinary workshop or to add a Mediterranean flare to your school menu? Look no further. JSI is excited to offer two NEW! culinary workshops this school year: Back to Basics: Mediterranean Flavors Workshops to Go and an innovative Live-Setting Culinary Training.

The Back to Basics:  Mediterranean Flavors is a 3-hour hands-on Workshop to Go designed to advance the culinary skills of school nutrition staff while they prepare popular Mediterranean recipes your students will love, such as shawarma pita wraps, hummus, tzatziki sauce, and more! School nutrition staff will enhance their culinary skills while exploring how to incorporate Mediterranean flavors into several different meal components designed to be served in the school lunchroom.

We are also pleased to offer Live-Setting Culinary Training to five schools this school year. This innovative training is an option for schools once they have completed the Back to Basic: Mediterranean Flavors workshop, since these same Mediterranean recipes will be prepared and served in the lunchroom in real-time alongside the JSI chef. The Live-Setting concept was successfully piloted at Milton High School in June 2017 and we are thrilled to expand this opportunity to more schools this year.

JSI Chef Brendan Gallagher works alongside Milton High School’s nutrition staff in a Live-Setting Culinary Training in June 2017

This innovative training was created by Chef Kent Getzin to train school foodservice teams in their live working environment during regular food production. With this new training approach, your school nutrition team can produce meals for the day while simultaneously learning valuable new culinary skills.

If you are interested, please make your online request for the Back to Basics: Mediterranean Flavors Workshop to Go. Email us at johnstalker@framingham.edu for more information about the Live-Setting Culinary Training.

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!