Certificate in Excellence Tech Project Leads to an Innovative Approach to Nutrition Education

Brendan Gallagher, head chef at Hillside School in Marlborough, MA.
Brendan Gallagher, head chef at Hillside School in Marlborough, MA.

Brendan Gallagher, head chef at Hillside School in Marlborough, is incorporating innovative strategies into his lunch program to provide nutrition education and engage students. Gallagher is a former student in the Computer Application in School Food Services course part of the Certificate in Excellence program offered by JSI. A technology project is conducted in the course emphasizing one of the National Food Service Management Institute’s core competencies of maximizing the use of computer technology in school food service. Students’ selected a type of technology and identified how it would be applied in their school lunch program. Gallagher took the project one step further implementing his selected technology, digital signage, into his lunch program.The program has been running for the past two years having a remarkable impact on the students. Gallagher has seen an increase in what he refers to as the students’ food IQ. The students are now initiating conversation with the chefs and want to know more about the food they are eating. Gallagher runs fun, humorous and visually appealing food and nutrition messages via digital signage twice a week during the lunch period on flat screen televisions displayed throughout the dining hall. The show is on a continuous loop repeating four to five times which allows for repeated exposure emphasizing the material.

The slide show is prepared ahead of time using slide decks from Nutrislice. Gallagher is able to personalize his show incorporating facts for foods on the menu for the day. He also tailors the show to the students emphasizing humor including a joke of the day and games, such as the broccoli shuffle. Other slides include quotes and facts related to nutrition, and comparing and contrasting of fast food items, which really get the students talking according to Gallagher.

JSI staff and interns had the opportunity to visit the Hillside School and see first hand the digital signage in action. Watch the video below created by FSU Communications Arts Intern Aaryn Chandler of the visit.

Hillside is a private all boys school that serves about 150 students for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Gallagher is passionate about serving students healthy food items and educating them on the importance of healthy food choices to their health.

Certificate-of-Excellence-JSI will be accepting new students into the Certificate of Excellence program for the course, Management of Child Nutrition Programs, starting in the fall. There is a pre-registration form on the JSI web site that those interested should complete.  This program is a unique opportunity to prepare school nutrition professionals for the requirements outlined in USDA’s proposed professional standards and the projects, as seen here, offer real world applications.

© The John C. Stalker Institute, 2020
The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition is a partnership of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Framingham State University.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
USDA Nondiscrimination Statement.

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