This year’s virtual Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit 2021 was a success with over 160 participants on May 6th. It was filled with insightful knowledge on how to encourage teamwork building strategies, how to increase school nutrition presence on social media and how the pandemic has changed the culture of school meals through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
School meals play a major role in statewide food security efforts. Rob Leshin, MPA, Director, Office for Food and Nutrition Programs, DESE, presented a look back on the pandemic and school nutrition and how it is looking going forward. He expressed DESE’s areas of support with continuing town halls and monthly Making it Count Newsletters.
Rob also shared a survey indicating food security during the pandemic. The survey indicated over 50% of participating residents in Massachusetts received FREE food from school meal programs. Since the start of the pandemic (Spring 2020), nation wide, 5 billion meals have been served through schools and community organizations utilizing USDA waivers. The pandemic proved that school meals are essential and so are the school nutrition staff! Because of this, the USDA has extended the free school meal program through June 2022! What a fantastic win for school nutrition!
Keynote speaker, Stefanie Giannini, MA, SNS, provided key knowledge on how to build and strengthen your team. Understanding a team is about finding what motivates each staff member, what they are passionate about, and building on the values AND struggles to make the strongest team possible! You can find videos with more detail on Giannini’s empowering videos here andIVATI – YouTube.
With social media being a huge presence in society, marketing expert Liz Roesel of SEA Level Social, spoke about how to craft the most effective message to promote your school’s nutrition program. Such as when taking pictures of the food:
- Have a neutral background
- Try different angles
- Natural light #nofilters
- Tell your programs story!
Throughout the Summit, participants learned that communication is key and it is important to collaborate and create new partnerships. To review in detail the amazing insights given, the presentation slides can be found on the JSI website.