Advance Your School Nutrition Career with JSI and FSU

JSI can help you advance your school nutrition career! A variety of advanced learning opportunities are available including multi-day worklaptopshops, and credit bearing undergraduate and graduate programs.
The Master of Education (M.Ed.) with a concentration in Nutrition Education, specialization in Nutrition Education Specialist is designed for school nutrition directors as well as other professionals from many related fields who have already completed their bachelor’s degree. The M.Ed. degree is conveniently offered entirely online. Coursework includes the advanced study of education, applied nutrition and nutrition education, and allows students to broaden their individual expertise through elective courses. Applicants must have at least one year of professional experience and applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Certificate-of-Excellence-The Certificate in Excellence in School Nutrition Program is specifically designed for directors of school nutrition programs and managers who wish to advance in their school nutrition careers. It is a state-recognized certification for school nutrition directors and it includes five undergraduate FSU courses over five semesters. New students are currently being accepted for the January 2016 spring semester. To apply, complete the online pre-registration form, no later than December 1, 2015. Space is limited and based on a first come, first serve basis.

The Management Institute is designed especially for school nutrition managers. The three-day workshop totals 21 hours of professional development and covers leadership, financial management, personnel management, communication, merchandising, and nutrition. The Management Institute is an excellent option for those who do not wish to commit to an academic degree. Be sure to check back on our website soon for August 2016 dates and registration information.

Consider JSI and FSU to help you move your career to the next level!

Insights on the School Lunch Environment Podcast Highlights

The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and DietPromotion-iconetics Editor-in-Chief Linda Snetselaar, PhD, RDN, LD, FAND interviewed Dr. Marlene B. Schwartz, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity and professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Connecticut, in a podcast Insights on the School Lunch Environment. The two discussed some challenges in the school lunch environment, how it has changed over time, strategies to make school lunches healthier, and future policy changes that could have a positive impact on school lunches.

Highlights from Dr. Schwartz’s interview

  • The challenge to provide healthy food at a low price remains difficult.
  • The requirement that each student take either a fruit or vegetable has led to plate waste concerns but Dr. Schwartz’s research and Harvard University research concluded otherwise.
  • It’s important to keep communication between students and foodservice open! Provide samples and survey students for feedback.

Listen to Insights on the School Lunch Environment podcast for more details about each of these highlights and to hear Dr. Schwartz’s forecast on future policy changes that could make a huge difference in making the school lunch environment healthier.

Local Solutions to Address the Challenges

In Massachusetts, the Harvard University 2014 study Impact of the new U.S. Department of Agriculture school meal standards on food selection, consumption, and waste by Juliana Cohen, et al. found that, “Although food waste levels were substantial both pre- and post-implementation, the new guidelines have positively affected school meal selection and consumption.” Juliana Cohen will be a keynote speaker at JSI’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit in May 2016.

Taste testing is a great way to introduce new foods to students leading to an increase in their consumption of new, healthier menu items and in turn help to lower plate waste. See JSI’s School Nutrition Program Marketing Resources for tips on how to conduct successful taste tests.

Creating an environment that nudges students toward healthier options, aka Smarter Lunchrooms, can also lead to reduced plate waste. Through a USDA Team Nutrition grant, JSI is offering schools in Massachusetts technical assistance and support to help use Smarter Lunchrooms strategies. Additionally, there are grants available to help fund Smarter Lunchrooms Movement interventions at your school.

To strengthen customer service and communication within your program and school, consider scheduling one or both of the JSI Workshops to Go: Focus on the Customer and Professional Communications. Don’t forget to check out JSI’s resources for credible information on all aspects of school nutrition.

A Day in the Life of a School Nutrition Director – Foxborough

Friday November 6th I had the pleasure of visiting Allison Johnson, the School Nutrition Director at Foxborough Public Schools to learn more about the school nutrition program within the Foxborough Public School District. During this visit Allison gave me a tour of the operations within both Taylor Elementary School and John J. Ahern Middle School.

Hydroponic tower gardens growing romaine lettuce (left), cucumbers (upper right tower), grape tomatoes (middle right tower), and green peppers (lower right tower).

Hydroponic tower gardens growing romaine lettuce (left), cucumbers (upper right tower), grape tomatoes (middle right tower), and green peppers (lower right tower).

The operation at Taylor Elementary School is unique featuring a hydroponic garden that produces vegetables that are harvested for the lunch program. Allison implemented the garden using grant money obtained from the School Garden Grant from the Whole Kids Foundation of Whole Food Market. Of the five public schools in the district, Taylor Elementary is the pilot school for the hydroponic garden. Allison reported that students became more excited about eating vegetables knowing that they were grown in their school and that the food grown from this project is also freeing up some money in the budget that can be allocated towards purchasing higher quality foods. She hopes to eventually implement the successful initiative in the other schools in the future.

image4All of the five public schools in Foxborough feature salad bars that were obtained through the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools Whole Kids Foundation Grant. Salad bars are an outstanding way to display colorful fruit and vegetable options and they include tongs and sneeze guards to ensure safe handling. Upon implementing the salad bars Allison educated students on how to properly use the salad bar, demonstrating that students should turn away and sneeze or cough into their arm when necessary. Furthermore, to minimize waste students are encouraged to take only what they can eat from the salad bar and are allowed to return for additional helpings at no extra cost.

Each month the lunch menus for the district include a “Harvest of the Month” produce item that is included in some of the month’s recipes. November’s harvest is kale so the middle school was offering Kale Apple Salad as a side dish on Friday, encouraging students to try new things. Additionally the menus feature “Meatless Monday” once each month. On this day all meals are meatless which is a great way to cut costs and minimize the district’s carbon footprint.

Check out JSI’s Pinterest board, The JOHN STALKER INSTITUTE (JSI) Rocks to see more images from this visit!

JSI can help your school nutrition program become more sustainable. Check out our Go Green for Schools Resources and the JSI Resource Center for ideas!

JSI Helps Schools Fill It Up the Right Way!

Portion control is fundamental for school nutrition programs to stay within their fill it up the right waybudgets. Proper portion sizes strengthen concepts of balance and moderation in student diets and can reduce child obesity and waste. The USDA Professional Standards include portion control as part of the key topic Serving Food in the learning objectives. The learning objective states, [Employees will be able to] “identify/serve portions of food items according to USDA school meal pattern requirements and diet restrictions.”

The John Stalker Institute (JSI) offers Fill It Up the Right Way Workshop to Go bringing training right to your school. This workshop teaches portion control strategies that can be applied in your school nutrition program; activities include practice weighing, measuring and the proper use of kitchen equipment. Online resources for this workshop can be found in the JSI Resource Center. The Fill It Up the Right Way workshop meets the requirements for the USDA Operations learning codes ensuring that learning outcomes are aligned with USDA expectations. Click here to read about Fill It Up the Right Way workshop in Westport, MA last year.

Another valuable resource is JSI’s A-List, a list of single serve products that are pre-portioned and meet the school nutrition program snack requirements ensuring appropriate portion sizes. The A-List is an up-to-date and ever-expanding list of vending and snack products that meet the Massachusetts Nutrition Standards for Competitive Foods and Beverages in Public Schools and the USDA’s Smart Snacks nutrition standards, whichever is stricter.

To analyze recipes for non-packaged foods check out JSI’s Recipe Tool. The Recipe Tool can be used to confirm that your school’s recipes meet the federal and state nutritional standards in the proper serving sizes. The Recipe Tool even generates downloadable nutrition facts labels and allows you to share your approved recipes.

JSI can help your school Fill It Up the Right Way, be sure to check out JSI’s resources and professional development pages for more information.