School Nutrition Programs across the Commonwealth are working diligently to ensure that students receive fresh meals, access to fruits and vegetables, a healthy breakfast to start their day, and lessons in eating locally – among many other things. Check out the recent news highlighting Massachusetts schools!
- In September, Andover public schools were recognized for exemplary school lunch programs. A national survey of school meal program directors found that Andover excelled in increasing awareness of allergy-safe recipes and locally sourced ingredients for school menus. A major advancement that has been made includes installing a mobile app that allows high school students to order their lunch, allowing for shorter wait time for lunches.
- This school year, Dartmouth is making great strides to spice up school lunch with “fun lunch” options. The district now uses a menu program called Nutrislice, which allows users to view menus for each school and obtain calorie and nutrition facts. Elementary schools have been introduced to “fun lunches” and provide access to unlimited fruits and vegetables. At the middle and high schools, additional access to fresh grill options along with the many healthy menu items available.
- In October, Rockport schools revamped their breakfast programs to encourage more middle and high school students to begin their day with a healthy meal. The schools are implementing new Grab-N-Go carts, thanks to funding from the New England Dairy & Food Council, to provide breakfast to students that may be otherwise unable to eat breakfast before classes begin.
- In November, Quincy’s Point Website Middle school students were given a gardening lesson and a farm fresh meal to educate students on nutrition and food production. At lunch, students enjoyed tomato and pesto paninis made with kale and basil grown in the school’s garden. With the help of a USDA Farm to School grant, Quincy Public Schools plans to grow a vegetable garden at every school by 2020.
- In November, Watertown Middle School students were provided a bonus snack made from kale that had been grown in the elementary school gardens. The locally grown kale was served to students as a taste test in the form of chips and salads. The goal of the taste test was to educate students on how locally grown foods can be incorporated into the cafeteria. Check out the video!
1. Know Your Audience
- Each social media account will have a different audience. Once you understand the individuals that will be reading and engaging with your posts you can personalize your content to match their interests.
- For example, your Facebook community may be comprised of parents so you can focus on upcoming nutrition events and happenings in your school but your Instagram following might only consist of students so you can share fun photos, upcoming menus and host photo contests.
2. A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words
- Make sure your content stands out by including photos and videos that will catch your audience’s attention as they scroll through social media channels on their phone or computer.
Play with menu items to ensure they are eye-catching when you share them online.
3 . Bring Attention to Your Social Media Channels
- If you want to grow your communities, you can promote your social channels online and in your school. Include your social media links on school handouts, lunchroom bulletins and posters. If your school has a main Facebook page or Twitter account, ask them to share links to your nutrition-focused pages in their “ABOUT” section or in upcoming posts.
4. Think Ahead for New Content
- Use upcoming school events, relevant holidays (March is National Nutrition Month!) and school happenings for new social media content. Stay ahead of ‘what’s coming up next’ so you can post that content when it’s relevant and timely.
National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
5. Use Social Media to Promote Nutrition with Students
- Run a social media photo contest to get students excited about nutrition. Encourage students to eat more fruits and vegetables by asking them to share a photo of their lunch plates on Instagram or have them nominate new lunch menu items by using a a hashtag on Twitter (students ages 13 and up).
Locke Middle School in Billerica, MA created the #mealonpoint Instagram challenge to encourage students to eat a well-balanced meal and Instagram a photo of their healthy choice for the chance to win a prize.
6. Engage with your Followers
- Check your social media accounts for just ten minutes each day and engage, as needed. Social media is an online community and fans and followers will be more inclined to engage with your posts, if you also like and respond to their comments and spark an ongoing dialogue.
7. What’s Working and What’s Not
- Most social media platforms have an analytics section (example: Facebook Insights) that shows you what content is resonating with your audience. Check these insights to adjust your content and increase engagement.
8. Get Inspired through Social Media
- Follow other school nutrition programs on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to get content inspiration for your channels.
9. Share JSI Content
- If something that JSI shares on social media is worth sharing on your channels, feel free to click SHARE or RT and pass it along to your
10. Utilize the JSI Resource Center
- Visit the JSI Resource Center for additional resources to use social media to promote school nutrition programs and increase your social media presence.
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.
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/.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com and we will do the rest!