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 Nuts and Bolts of Food Safety

Nuts and Bolts of School Nutrition Programs is a professional development series led by staff from ESE’s Office for Food and Nutrition Programs in coordination with The John C. Stalker Institute  developed to increase the knowledge and abilities of school nutrition directors to implement the USDA National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. The November session focused on the important topic of food safety in schools and covered HACCP principles, activities to enhance confident in implementing food safety plans and strategies to create a culture of food safety in your school. The session was presented by Cindy Rice from Eastern Food Safety and included ESE and USDA staff as well as 20 school nutrition directors.
Topicsfood-safety-image in this session included risk factors and prevention of foodborne illness, sanitation practices, rules of food service handling from receiving to serving, food recall procedures, and HACCP. Through education and review of these topics, all those in attendance received a Certificate in HACCP and Food Safety. Congratulations!
Looking for resources on Food Safety? Check out the Food Safety category in the JSI Resource Center which includes a variety of links to helpful food safety resources. Bring a food safety training directly to your school with the Essentials of Food Safety Workshop To Go.

Food Allergies: School Guidelines and Education

On October 17, 2016 at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo  nearly 350 attendees joined the session entitled, Food Allergies: School Guidelines and Education which aimed to provide useful in-sight into the role of dietitians/school nutrition professionals can play in implementing state-level guidance and professional development for the prevention and management of life-threatening allergies in the school setting.

Christanne Harrison (right) and Karen McGrail (left) all smiles after their successful presentation at FNCE

Christanne Harrison (left) and Karen McGrail (right) all smiles after their successful presentation at FNCE

As a leader in school-based food allergy guidance and education, Massachusetts has updated the Managing Life-Threatening Food Allergies in Schools guidelines and professional development offered to reflect the most current data, laws and policies, terminology, and protocols related to managing life-threatening allergies in the school and early childcare settings.

The Managing Life-Threatening Food Allergies in Schools guidelines are intended to assist Massachusetts school districts, non-public schools, early education and care programs, and summer feeding programs to develop and implement policies and comprehensive protocols for the care of children with life-threatening allergic conditions. The guidelines address:

  • Scope of the problem of childhood allergies
  • Types of detailed plans that should be in place to help prevent allergic reaction emergencies and deaths from anaphylaxis
  • Systematic planning and multidisciplinary team approach needed prior to entry into a school or program by the child with life- threatening allergies
  • School or program role in preventing exposure to specific allergens
  • Emergency management during a life-threatening allergic event
  • Roles of specific staff members in the care of the child with a life- threatening allergic condition

The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition at Framingham State University offers face-to-face and online professional development opportunities based upon the newly updated Managing Life-Threatening Food Allergies in Schools guidelines to school professionals across the Commonwealth.  These offerings include:

  • Food Allergies Workshops to Go – 2-hour workshop delivered in Massachusetts schools for school nutrition staff and managers.
  • Food Allergies Online Workshop – online version of the Food Allergies Workshop to Go provides a convenient training option for school nutrition staff, managers and directors.
  • Exploring Food Allergies – 4 week online graduate course designed for teachers, nurses, school nutrition directors offered by Framingham State University’s Professional Development for Educators.

Take advantage of these food allergy professional development opportunities! Visit The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition web page to register online or schedule your Food Allergies Workshop to Go. For additional food allergy resources, be sure to check out the Food Allergy resources and Special Dietary Needs category in the JSI Resource Center.

 

Massachusetts Team Up for School Nutrition Success

teamup1On November 9th and 10th school nutrition directors from across Massachusetts came together for a Team Up for School Nutrition Success Mentoring event, sponsored by The Institute of Child Nutrition, and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE), and hosted by The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition. Mentors and participants worked together over the two days to share ideas, experiences, and challenges they’ve faced in school nutrition. The two-day event included breakout sessions that covered financial management, increasing participation and menu planning. These sessions gave participants the opportunity to share ideas, concerns and resources with their peers.

The event provided an opportunity for the sharing of creative solutions through panel discussions. Here are some of the best practices shared:

  • Student sampling surveys where students place empty sample cups into one of two buckets labeled with either a thumbs up or thumbs down symbol. This is an easy method for collecting feedback without the added work of synthesizing survey results. It is a good visual tool to see if the majority of students liked or disliked a recipe. – Crystal Andrade, School Nutrition Director, Old Colony Regional High School, teamup2Rochester, MA
  • It CAN be done! Open your mind, think outside the box. “Attitude is everything – you have to cook with love and serve with love.” – Jacki Dillenback, School Nutrition Director, Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District, Orange, MA
  • Incorporate recipes from staff members into the menu. It increases diversity of foods served and the staff are proud to serve these foods. – Jill Lucius, School Nutrition Director, Fitchburg Public Schools, Fitchburg, MA
  • Focus on communication with parents, students, and the community, about who you are and what you do. – Ruth Griffin, School Nutrition Director, Needham Public Schools, Needham, MA

teamup4After sharing ideas and best practices, participants were encouraged to set SMART goals for their own district. Participants worked with mentors to create an action plan to turn newly learned strategies and goals into actionable steps forward.

Participants’ Key Strategies:

  • Meet with principals to discuss methods to increase breakfast participation.
  • Increase participation for lunch by using Smarter Lunchrooms strategies.
  • Try Offer Versus Serve in the classroom.
  • Acquire more grill top space in high schools so that more grilled items can be offered daily.
  • Establish a water-use conservation program by the end of the school year.

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The event concluded with a general session appropriately entitled, Going Forward, where ESE staff members echoed the importance of a plan of action moving forward and next steps. Participants were encouraged to continue connections with peers and to take this fresh energy back to their districts and use it to move forward to accomplish their SMART goals. “If you’re open to it, you always walk away with something new.” Sally Teixeira, ESE. The event was very positively received by participants and mentors alike. Here’s what they had to say:

“It’s been excellent. I’ve only been a director for two months so I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how friendly everyone is and how willing they are to help.” – Elissa Maunus, SND, Sutton Public Schools, Sutton, MA

“This opportunity to network and brainstorm about situations and challenges we all face has been super productive.” – Danielle Collins, SND, Chelmsford Public Schools, Chelmsford, MA

“This was the BEST program I have ever attended.  I would recommend it to all Food Service Directors, large and small districts, it brought us together like no other training had done before. – Diane Mikulski, SND, Abby Kelley Foster Charter Public School, Worcester, MA

Interested in additional information and resources? Check out Team Up for School Nutrition Success.

Advance Your Career with The Certificate in Excellence in School Nutrition program

In 2014, the USDA released updated rules for school nutrition professionals to emphasize minimum national professional standards and training requirements. If you’re looking for an opportunity to advance your education, The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition (JSI) at Framingham State University (FSU) offers the Certificate in Excellence in School Nutrition Program which is a  state-recognized professional development program that aims to increase the knowledge and skills of directors and senior management in school nutrition programs.

This program includes five undergraduate courses offered through FSU and blends face-to-face weekend classes with online conference sessions to meet the needs of a working professional. The goals of this Certificate Program are to help school nutrition professionals:

  • Apply the changing nutrition standards to improve the school nutrition environment
  • Meet the financial challenges of a self-supporting school nutrition program
  • Evaluate and implement the emerging trends in school nutrition programs
  • Lead the school district in the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative and join the USDA Healthier US School Challenge

The course Computer Applications in School Food Services is currently underway this semester. This class covers the role of technology and how to maximize its use in child nutrition programs and school food services. Students select a type of technology and identify how it can be applied to their school lunch programs which promotes real-life application for all coursework.

School Nutrition Professionals in The Certificate in Excellence in School Nutrition. Left to right in the front row: Nathan Langevin, Marilyn Haraden, Dawn LaVallee, Beth Simon, Crystal Andrade, Robert Shaheen; Left to right in the back row: Molly Brooks, Pam Whelan, Nadine Lorenzen, Karen McGrail, Mirella Santucci, Deborah Vaughn.

School Nutrition Professionals in The Certificate in Excellence in School Nutrition. Left to right in the front row: Nathan Langevin, Marilyn Haraden, Dawn LaVallee, Beth Simon, Crystal Andrade, Robert Shaheen; Left to right in the back row: Molly Brooks, Pam Whelan, Nadine Lorenzen, Karen McGrail, Mirella Santucci, Deborah Vaughn.

All courses that are included within The Certificate in Excellence program include:

To learn more about this program, please visit the JSI website. If you’re interested in The Certificate in Excellence program, complete the pre-registration form by December 16, 2016 at www.johnstalkerinstitute.org/cert/.

Bringing Farm & Sea Into School Cafeterias

On November 4th the Farm & Sea to School Conference held in Leominster MA successfully offered a wealth of ideas and resources to get schools involved with local farms and fishermen, as well as contacts to provide local produce and seafood school cafeterias! The morning began with encouraging statistics in the opening remarks from Rob Leshin, Director for the Office of Food & Nutrition Programs at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) who reported that Massachusetts ranks 9th in the country for farm to school programs and 68% of schools already have a farm and sea to school program in their cafeteria.

Opening remarks by Rob Leshin at the Farm & Sea to School Conference

Opening remarks by Rob Leshin at the Farm & Sea to School Conference

During the conference, two successful program models were highlighted. Through these examples, several ways to implement a farm-to-school programs were explored!

  1. Somerville Public School District utilizes a community supported agriculture, CSA, program with Drumlin Farm, located in Lincoln, MA, which provides Somerville Public Schools with fresh produce every week for their school salad bar!
    • The produce received by the school is only what is harvested during each season.
    • Drumlin Farm benefits from the money received from the CSA program.
    • This year, Somerville Public Schools added field trips to the farm and in-class lessons to help children develop a closer relationship with their school.
Somerville Schools CSA Program Flyer

Somerville Schools CSA Program Flyer

  1. Grow Food North Hampton serves the North Hampton community through their Red Bag program
    • The Red Bag program provides bags of produce to families with school-aged children and their families with a bag of produce each week for a set price of $20 for 10 weeks.
    • The Red Bag program is also open to all those in the North Hampton community, to ensure no one goes hungry.
Here are some reasons to eat local in your school! (Provided by the MA Department of Agricultural Resources)

Here are some reasons to eat local in your school! (Provided by the MA Department of Agricultural Resources)

.Check out the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and the Farm and Sea to School Conference web page for more information. You can find additional resources in the Going Green category of the JSI Resource Center and our Farm to School – Supporting Local Agriculture blog

Pursue a Graduate Degree in Nutrition Education at Framingham State University

If you’re interested in pursuing a graduate degree that complements your current role, advances your career goals and offers flexibility in your schedule, Framingham State University offers a Master of Education (M.Ed.) with a concentration in Nutrition Education, specialization in Nutrition Education Specialist degree. The M.Ed. is 100% offered online and was created for the convenience of a working professional. The program includes the advanced study of education, applied nutrition and nutrition education, and requires three electives which allows students to select topics that matter most to their individual career.

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The M. Ed. program requires a minimum of ten courses which include: three education core courses, four nutrition core courses and three specialization courses.

M.Ed. students that complete this program at Framingham State University (FSU) walk away with the ability to:

  • Develop effective nutrition education curriculum for a variety of audiences.
  • Integrate current science-based nutrition issues into food, nutrition, and wellness policies.
  • Design and interpret nutrition education research.
  • Select and utilize appropriate technology for nutrition education.

Applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree, at least one year of professional experience and applications are accepted on a rolling basis. A timed online comprehensive examination is required as the culminating experience.

If this program interest you, please visit the FSU website to understand all required coursework and to learn more about the admissions requirements for The M.Ed. If you have further questions about the program, please contact Graduate Admissions.

 

 

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!

Interested in Hosting a Healthy Cuisine for Kids Workshop?

Healthy Cuisine for Kids is a two-day interactive culinary and nutrition workshop from the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) designed to help school nutrition staff work as a team to prepare, evaluate and present healthy and student-friendly recipes.  Participants will learn new and healthy cooking methods and apply the nutrition principles of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. During the two-day program, staff will receive 16 hours of training with four hands-on culinary labs including:

  1. Culinary basics, including the essential concept of mis en place
  2. Fruits and vegetables
  3. Whole-grain rich foods
  4. Meat/meat alternatives

After the workshop, participants will be able to identify quality food standards and understand nutrition principles for the foods discussed in each lab. Ultimately, participants leave the workshop feeling empowered with the tools and techniques to create meals that excite students and provide nutritional value.

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Cooking demonstration by Chef Tracey Burg at a prior Healthy Cuisine for Kids Workshop

If you have been thinking about offering professional development to your staff over a school vacation week or during summer break, you may wish to consider hosting Healthy Cuisine for Kids at your school.  This workshop requires the full use of your school kitchen during the two-day workshop as well as a prep day prior to the workshop. Healthy Cuisine for Kids requires a minimum of 20-25 participants and maximum of 30 participants, so it may be helpful to join with school staff from other districts in your area. There is no cost for the Healthy Cuisine for Kids workshop and The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition is here to help arrange this workshop for Massachusetts schools.

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Vegetable Pizza recipe demonstrated and prepared during a Healthy Cuisine for Kids workshop.

If you’re interested in learning more or want to schedule this workshop for your school, please e-mail us at johnstalker@framingham.edu. Please share potential dates for the workshop and include any questions you may have about the training.

 

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.