DuBois Central Catholic School Forms Garden Club

Description

Dubois Central Catholic is a school that is always looking for ways to provide students with worthwhile experiences. Gardening is a perfect example of something that can offer students valuable lessons in classroom topics which they can carry with them later in life, and is also an opportunity to improve upon the beauty of the school courtyard.

Students formed a Garden Club and met every Thursday during activity period to plant and take care of tomato and pepper plants. After the construction of two additional garden beds the students transferred the plants outdoors.

Meanwhile, worm bins were established to use for compost in the garden. Although the students initially knew little about composting by the end of the school year they became experts in the topic.

The peppers and tomatoes will be harvested in late summer or early fall and used to make salsa.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Renee Gressler
Contact Person’s Title: Middle School Science Teacher
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 590-8905

Objectives

  • To build two additional school gardens in the middle school courtyard
  • To establish three worm compost bins to teach students about composting and to provide compost for the garden
  • To teach students about gardening and plants
  • To plant tomatoes and pepper plants from seed and transfer them into the school gardens
  • To harvest garden produce in the fall and make homemade salsa

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Advice

  • Utilize the custodian/maintenance department to help if possible. It is important to keep them in the loop and they are usually willing to help.
  • Involve the students whenever possible. It will give them a sense of ownership in the project.
  • If you maintain multiple worm bins consider splitting them up by school age (with some in an elementary school, for example, and some in a middle or high school).

Evidence of Success

  • Many students have commented on what a fun process this has been. They loved feeding the worms and they loved planting the seeds.

Hallowell Elementary School Employs Local Chef to Educate Students About Nutrition: Hatboro-Horsham School District

Description

Hallowell Elementary School hired Chef Bill Scepansky to provide nutrition education for students. Chef Bill helps school Food Service Departments with staff training and procuring great produce and teaching students about good nutrition. He hosted numerous nutrition assemblies throughout the day for all the students at Hallowell Elementary. The objective of these assemblies was to teach students the importance of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables and the nutritional benefits of each item.

Chef Bill's presentations were interactive, fun, kid-friendly, and extremely educational. He spoke about vitamins and minerals contained in fruits and vegetables and what each does for your body. For example, he spoke about the potassium in bananas and how doctors always recommend athletes eat more bananas when they get cramps. Kids learned that purple fruits and vegetables boost brain power. The students were very engaged and interested in his references and examples. Chef Bill also prepared samples for the students to try after the presentation. They taste-tested sugar snap peas, strawberries, and kumquats.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Jessica Rankin
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 420-5973

Objectives

  • To teach students the importance of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables
  • To teach students the specific nutritional benefits of various fruits and vegetables

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Be sure to advertise the event with posters and announcements.

Evidence of Success

  • Chef Bill's assemblies were extremely well received and both students and the principal has asked if he could return next year.

Loyalsock Township School District: Donald E. Schick Elementary School Introduces Salad Bar to School Lunch

Description

In order to promote the consumption of fresh vegetables and in an effort to reduce food waste Donald E. Schick Elementary School implemented a salad bar. They were the recipients of a "Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools" salad bar but identified some barriers and challenges to a successful roll-out of the salad bar including untrained food service staff and untrained students on the sanitary use of a salad bar. They purchased signage for the salad bar and held a kick-off event for this exciting new program. They conducted training for students and staff. Overall, the efforts in training and introducing the salad bar to students in such a positive way has lead to a successful year of salad bar offerings.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Beth Hufnagel
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (570) 323-3211

Objectives

  • To implement a salad bar at the elementary school
  • To increase vegetable and salad consumption at the student level
  • To decrease the amount of vegetables being wasted
  • To increase school lunch participation

Category

  • New School Meal Patterns

Advice

  • Train students as well as staff on the proper use of a salad bar.
  • Promote the salad bar via signs and letters home to parents.
  • Consider a free salad bar day to kick off the program.
  • Encourage staff to use the salad bar.

Evidence of Success

  • The response was positive and production records show an increase in salad and vegetable consumption.
  • Students enjoy being able to take only what they want and the ability to “create the salad of their dreams.”
  • Waste of vegetables is down.
  • Students have been introduced to unfamiliar vegetables such as jicama and legume salads.

Southern Columbia Area School District's Wellness Committee Promotes Fresh Food of the Month

Description

Southern Columbia Area School District's Wellness Community promotes healthy eating with a Fresh Food of the Month campaign. The Wellness Committee is comprised of a diverse group including students, community members, the school food service director, members of the school board, local farmers, teachers, etc. Such a broad group not only ensures different perspectives and feedback, it also helps the efficiency of the planning process while implementing a new Fresh Food of the Month. For example, farmers on the team can inform the group whether or not a desired food item is available, and if it isn't then they can suggest a different item. Administrators on the team can provide immediate answers to questions such as schedule changes or relaying messages. Having immediate feedback makes the meetings more efficient and helps prevent time and effort from being wasted. The Wellness Committee meets once a month during school hours. The meetings are typically scheduled during a common planning period prior to the first period. Included in each monthly meeting agenda is the planning for each Fresh Food of the Month event. The Fresh Food of the Month event introduces a new, locally sourced, nutritionally dense food or menu item. The ingredients are procured from local farmers, the item is promoted via posters, announcements, the school website, letters sent home, and a press release.

The group must identify the food item to be served, develop a budget for the event, identify local farms  from whom they can purchase the needed items, and then create a task list which will assign specific duties to each team member. Everything needed to promote and execute the event is decided at this time. The Fresh Food of the Month is then made for the students and staff and sampled for free during the lunch period. By featuring healthy, fresh, locally farmed produce the students have expanded their knowledge and experience of different food items. Their palates have become more accustomed to and receptive of fresh locally sourced produce and it is being featured more on the school menu.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Paul Caputo
Contact Person’s Title: Superintendent
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (570) 356-3501

Objectives

  • To combat childhood obesity by providing and promoting healthy food choices
  • To support the local economy and strengthen community bonds
  • To educate staff on the nutritional value of farm fresh foods in the hopes that they will model behavior for students

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Develop a diverse Wellness Committee to generate the buy in of key stakeholders as well as to secure a wide range of talents.

Evidence of Success

  • The Fresh Food of the Month events were well-received. All food items were consumed with students typically coming back for second helpings.
  • The initiative was met with a great deal of enthusiasm by students, staff, and other stakeholders.
  • The food service director has expanded her menu to include more fresh food items as students are acquiring a taste for such offering.

McKinley Elementary School Promotes Healthy Eating Habits: Abington School District

Description

McKinley Elementary School promotes healthy eating habits to its students with a multi-faceted approach. The school has a program called The Monthly Food Focus which introduces a new food item to students. Choosing among lean proteins, leafy greens, berries, legumes, fruits, and whole grain rich items, a menu item is featured and promoted. Signs and posters are displayed to indicate the monthly item, a chef comes to the school to demonstrate how to make the item, the item is sampled by the students, and finally it is introduced to the school's menu. In addition, there are nutrition lessons and writing assignments on the focused item. Students learn about the nutritional content of the featured item, they learn which nutrients the food provides and how this affects their health.

Most recently, tortellini Alfredo, featuring fresh, locally grown ingredients was prepared by a chef and sampled by students and staff. The following month the item was served in the cafeteria.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Dr. Charles Lentz
Contact Person’s Title: Principal of McKinley Elementary School
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 884-4700

Objectives

  • To expose students to healthy items with the goal of improving nutritional content of menu items
  • To promote healthy eating
  • To allow students to sample new menu items
  • To teach students the importance of nutrient-dense foods

Category

  • Healthy School Meals

Advice

  • Sometimes a different approach is needed in the way you serve food. Having a chef demonstrate how to make meals and offering samples will generate excitement.

Evidence of Success

  • The focused food items are popular with the students.
  • The featured items have made their way onto the school menu.

Apollo-Ridge School District Hosts Family Fun Night to Promote Healthy Eating

Description

In an effort to increase the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables at home, Apollo-Ridge School District hosted a “Fun With Foods” Family Fun Night for students and their families. The idea was that if students could be compelled to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables at home then they would be more likely to choose them when they were offered at school.

The event focused on first graders and Kindergartners. The committee assigned to promote the event met with the Youth Advisory Committee at the elementary school. Students were given the opportunity to share food items they wanted to have sampled at the Fun Night. The next step was promoting the event. This was done by sending flyers home with the students and promoting the event on the school website and via email.

The event was planned by choosing food items which would be featured. This included fruit salsa, whole grain chips, sweet potato casserole, spinach smoothies, a variety of fresh vegetables, and zucchini muffins. Nutrition information was also provided in the form of “Fun Fact” sheets for each station.

The event was set up so that guests could actually make the food items and take recipes home with them. Separate stations were created for each food item with one of the food service employees assisting at each station as needed. A fruit basket was provided as a door prize.

The next day in school the same items were offered for taste-tests to kindergarten and first grade students who were unable to attend. There was a follow up meeting with the Youth Advisory Committee to get their impressions of the event.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Sarah Backus
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (412) 722-5884

Objectives

  • To increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables at home

Category

  • Healthy School Meals

Advice

  • Plan to have the event coincide with another event that will take place at school.  For example, an open house or an art show would serve to provide a larger audience.

Evidence of Success

  • Students who tried the samples took recipes home and anecdotal evidence suggests that some families have begun serving the items at home.

Brandywine Heights Area School District Staff Learns Scratch Cooking Techniques

Description

The Brandywine Heights Area School District was in need of an updated look and new image. This was achieved by improving the attitude and ability of the food service staff. Attitudes can be hard to change, but improved morale, increased confidence, and pride were achieved by educating the cafeteria staff about the new movement in school food service toward healthy, more tasty, made-from-scratch food.

The school food service department was somewhat isolated from the rest of the school community. The food service staff believed that “no one really cares what we offer.” Staff gained skills by working with a local chef, conducting student taste-testing, and procuring fresh, local ingredients. This also resulted in increased pride in the department and generated buy-in toward the new look and image.

The department is now poised to demonstrate the vital contribution that they can make to the overall school environment and academic achievement of the students. They had been wanting to make this contribution and now they know how to and believe that they can.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Barb Nissel
Contact Person’s Title: Consultant for Brandywine Heights Area School District
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 610-761-5194

Objectives

  • To raise the awareness and pride of the food service staff by educating them about the “Best From Scratch” movement occurring in school food programs
  • To develop cooking skills with the food service staff that will enable them to prep entrees from scratch
  • To introduce new and different foods to the food service staff
  • To taste-test new foods with the food service staff and students to increase student acceptance
  • To evaluate current kitchen equipment to ensure scratch cooking is possible
  • To demonstrate cooking techniques with the help of a professional culinary individual
  • To instill a positive “I can do that!” attitude with the food service staff

Category

  • Healthy School Meals

Advice

  • Plan well for a chef or other culinary professional to demonstrate school entrees for your staff. Be flexible with times and dates.
  • Utilize school-based recipes that have the nutritional analysis completed.
  • Have the staff participate in the chopping and dicing for the recipe.
  • Conduct the food demonstration one afternoon and have the students sample the food the following day.

Evidence of Success

  • The food service staff were amazed that they enjoyed the recipes that were demonstrated. They had a positive attitude when presenting the items to the students.
  • The staff have since suggested new and different recipes that they would like to try.
  • The students are asking for taste-tests.
  • Several of the recipes are being incorporated into the 2015-2016 cycle menu.

Colonial School District Hosts Local Chef to Train Staff

Description

Colonial School District hosted Chef Bill Scepansky of Smart Partners to provide skill-building workshops for their food service staff. Chef Bill worked with 40 school cafeteria employees to teach them cooking skills and how to prepare recipes which would not only be compliant with new school meal patterns but also tasty and attractive enough that students would happily choose and enjoy them.

The staff learned how to properly use their knives, how to prepare vegetables so that they retained their nutrients and appearance (crunchy and green as opposed to limp and gray), and were taught to prepare recipes with which they were unfamiliar, such as stir-fries, sweet potatoes, and more.

Future training will include how to use induction cook tops, preparing omelettes, and more. Their goal is to increase participation by making the food more nutritious and look and taste better.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Lori McCoy
Contact Person’s Title: Director of Food Services
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 834-1670

Objectives

  • To develop new recipes which meet the new meal patterns that students will accept and enjoy
  • To increase the confidence level of food service personnel in preparing menu items

Category

  • New School Meal Patterns

Advice

  • When holding culinary training for staff be sure to clearly communicate your goals of the training to the chef in charge.
  • Be sure your staff has the proper equipment to accomplish the tasks which they are taught.

Evidence of Success

  • A few days after being trained a staff member called to say that more students chose broccoli than ever before. She attributed this to the bright green color of the vegetable, as opposed to being dark and drab.

Davis Elementary School Offers Taste-testing to Students: Centennial School District

Description

In order to promote healthy, underutilized food groups, Davis Elementary School chose two food groups, legumes and cruciferous vegetables, and developed tasty recipes which cafeteria staff prepared and served to the students for taste-testing. Five different recipes were chosen and served to both students and their parents during two separate days (American Education Week and Field Day). Students voted for their favorite recipe, and that item was then included as part of the regular menu options in the school cafeteria. Popular recipes included Kale Smoothies and Mexican Radish Slaw. The entire event proved to be a low-cost, high-interest way to promote healthy new eating habits.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Mike Devitt
Contact Person’s Title: Assistant Principal
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 441-6181

Objectives

  • To increase student willingness to include healthy food options of underutilized food groups as part of their routine diet

Category

  • Healthy School Meals

Advice

  • Scheduling the sampling days on dates when parents were also in the school environment made for a nice home/school connection.

Evidence of Success

  • Purchase rates of the new menu items has been strong.
  • Students showed excitement on Fridays in anticipation of seeing the new plated samples.
  • Increase in students' understanding of guidelines (the need to take either a fruit or vegetable each day with their reimbursable school lunch)

East Stroudsburg Area School District's Chef in the School Program Empowers Students

Description

East Stroudsburg Area School District's Chef in the School Program taught students to make healthy snacks which they could then make at home without the assistance of adults. The recipes demonstrated (fresh fruit and apple butter roll up and fruited low fat yogurt parfait) offered the child an alternative from eating a convenience food when hungry for a snack.

The chef demonstrated how the item is made. He then worked with children as they made the same item. Once the child made the item he or she was allowed to enjoy eating the snack. Afterward students were given recipes to take home where, it is hoped, they will make the recipes for themselves and their family members.

After the demonstration there was time to discuss the nutritional benefits of the items prepared and the chef fielded questions from the students.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Paul Schmid
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (570) 424-8500

Objectives

  • To teach children to make healthy snacks
  • To offer nutrition education to students
  • To allow students to ask a chef questions

Category

  • Working Toward Meeting the Healthier U.S. School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms

Advice

  • It is important to hold the students’ interest to ensure their active participation.
  • Be sure to allow the students to question the chef. Students often ask questions regarding the chef's career path.

Evidence of Success

  • The demonstration generated great interest from the students.
  • The students have given positive feedback about the demonstrations.
  • Many students have made the recipes at home for themselves and their families.

Ephrata Area School District Increases Vegetable and Fruit Consumption During School Meals

Description

Ephrata Area School District hired a chef to come to the district and teach the cafeteria staff knife skills and different preparation techniques for various fresh fruits and vegetables.
The chef taught a select group of personnel knife skills: How to sharpen and steel a knife, how to clean and maintain a knife, how to hold a knife, which knife to use, and the different cuts to use in preparing various menu items. These employees then shared that knowledge with other staff members.
The cafeteria workers then applied their newfound knowledge to prepare different combinations of roasted vegetables, all of which were received very well by the students. Examples of items are Roasted Butternut Squash (a Holiday Meal favorite), Roasted Veggies (different combinations have included red peppers, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, carrots, cauliflower, green zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant) seasoned with a touch of kosher salt and pepper. This dish has proven to be popular and is now a part of the regular cycle menu. In addition, if there are any leftovers the students like them chilled the following day.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Teri Gamez
Contact Person’s Title: Director of Food and Nutrition Services
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (717) 721-1400

Objectives

  • To offer students a greater variety of fresh vegetables and fruits

Category

  • New School Meal Patterns

Advice

  • Evaluate which vegetables and fruits are in season. Seasonal vegetables will not only be of the highest quality but they will also be more affordable.
  • Emphasize the recipe instructions to ensure that the items are bright and retain some crunch. Overcooked vegetables are never received well.

Evidence of Success

  • With each menu rotation the amount of fresh vegetables purchased has had to be increased to accommodate the demand.

Global Leadership Academy Charter School Administers Taste Tests

Description

Global Leadership Academy Charter School worked with local food services to prepare a sampling amount of five potential school meals for 75 students and staff members. Participants were encouraged to try all foods because their input would be used to determine which items would make their way onto the school menu. Both faculty and staff were given free samples of items which the school wanted to promote. The school encouraged family-style dining with round tables, nice silverware, and cloth napkins to give students the opportunity to have a nice, shared meal and encourage engagement during the meal.

A local chef was also brought into the school to help train the school staff. He taught them to chop, store fruit and vegetables (including freezing techniques), and cook with fresh herbs. Fresh herbs were also grown in class and transplanted into the school garden where they will be used for school meals.

In addition, surveys were distributed asking to rate favorite samples and provide feedback and students were given incentives, in the form of fruit tattoos, to complete the surveys. Eventually, all items sampled were included on the school menu, although some were modified due to feedback given. For example, one item was made less spicy. Including students in the decision regarding new menu items should generate buy-in and result in greater participation.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Jiana Murdic
Contact Person’s Title: Physical Education Teacher
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 498-5520

Objectives

  • To increase participation in school meals by including the students in menu planning

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Advice

  • Hold taste-tests before holiday breaks to ensure an upbeat, festive mood.
  • Give students an incentive to participate.
  • Encourage all involved to discuss their opinions.
  • Have peers gently encourage reluctant students to taste-test new items.

Evidence of Success

  • At tables where students and staff sit, a significant, positive attitude and excitement around the food was present.

Great Valley School District Introduces Farmer's Market to Elementary School

Description

Since 2009 Great Valley School District has offered homemade, fresh, and delicious free samples to students at the middle and high schools. These items are often made with produce from the school garden. If not from the garden, attempts are made to use locally procured, fresh ingredients. For the 2014-2015School Year, the Farmer's Market program expanded to the K.D. Markley Elementary School and Sugartown Elementary School. Recipes include apricot crisp, beets, butternut squash soup, and roasted broccoli and carrots. These were made available to every student in the school regardless of whether or not they had purchased a school meal.

Staff at the middle school made all the food for the Farmer's Market from scratch. The food was then transported to the elementary schools. Staff members plated and served the samples to the students during the lunch period. The dietitian introduced the recipes and announced the nutritional benefits of the ingredients used over the loud speaker. The recipes for each of the taste-tested items were given to the students to take home. Teachers were encouraged to participate and popular items have been incorporated into the cycle menu.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Kelsey Gartner
Contact Person’s Title: Nutrition/Garden Coordinator
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 610-322-8037

Objectives

  • To significantly reduce fruit and vegetable plate waste
  • To convince students to try new foods
  • To adopt popular recipes from taste-tests into the cycle menu
  • To encourage teachers to sample new food items and serve as role models to students

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Be sure to send permission slips home with students to be sure that the child will be allowed to partake in the sampling.
  • Keep the recipes simple to reduce the possibility of potential allergens.
  • Avoid sampling foods which are known allergens. For example, the Butternut Squash soup was prepared with vegetable stock and did not include any dairy products.
  • Students are used to having choices when they eat out so providing them with a variety in school is important.
  • If the item does not test well try it again another time, possibly in a different form. Sometimes it takes several taste-tests for students to decide if they actually like an item.

Evidence of Success

  • Students are trying more food items.
  • Items that test well are being incorporated into the menu.
  • Fruit and vegetable consumption is increasing.
  • Students look forward to the tastings and have suggested items which they would like to sample.

McDonald Elementary School Increases Breakfast Participation: Centennial School District

Description

McDonald Elementary School employed several strategies to increase their school breakfast participation. After discovering that several parents didn't realize that student eligibility for free or reduced price lunches also applied to school breakfasts, the school sent letters home. These letters not only explained the free/reduced lunch/breakfast connection, but they also promoted the breakfast program, and importance of breakfast, in general.

School breakfast was also promoted in morning video announcements, and via multiple A-frame (sandwich board) signs including at areas where students get dropped off at school from buses and cars.

Another source of promotion has been the kindergarten student. It is important to target kindergarten students because they are often not aware of breakfast procedures. In addition, if students do not go directly by the cafeteria on the way from the bus to class it is important to remind them verbally and visually that breakfast is available. Therefore, during the months of September and October, fifth grade safeties would walk groups of kindergarten students to breakfast. Finally, by increasing kindergarten participation, it improves the chances that the student will continue to eat breakfast in later grades.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Michael VanBuren
Contact Person’s Title: Assistant Principal
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 441-6000

Objectives

  • To increase school breakfast participation
  • objectives
  • objectives

Category

  • School Breakfast

Advice

  • Be sure to increase the amount of staff in the cafeteria to accommodate increased participation. Be creative in juggling the staff's morning responsibilities.

Evidence of Success

  • During SY 2013-2014 the school averaged 95 students eating breakfast per day. In SY 2014-2015 that number increased to 149, a 57% increase.

Simmons Elementary School Constructs Edible School Garden: Hatboro-Horsham School District

Description

Simmons Elementary School partnered with Home Depot to construct an edible school garden. Home Depot provided employees to help with the construction. Three 4-foot by 4-foot beds were constructed and students planted a variety of fruits and vegetables. One of the beds is a salsa garden consisting of tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, and onions that students will use to make salsa in the classroom. The garden is maintained primarily by after school students and summer program students. The students will be able to observe the crops they plant grow from seed to something that is edible and healthy. The students will eat their crops and develop healthy recipes and menu ideas.

In addition, the garden will be used as an outdoor classroom. This will foster environmental awareness and build a sense of community and social development. Lessons about nutrition, science, and more can be taught in the garden utilizing plants, soil, water, etc. as an integral part of the lesson plan.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Jessica Rankin
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 420-5973

Objectives

  • To construct an edible school garden
  • To teach students how to garden
  • To use a garden as an outdoor classroom

Category

  • Farm to School

Advice

  • Reach out to the local business community to generate partners

Evidence of Success

  • The garden is constructed and items are growing.
  • A schedule exists to ensure the garden will be properly maintained.
  • The garden coordinator has received only positive feedback.

Murrell Dobbins High School Promotes Healthy Fund-raising and Student Wellness

Description

In order to comply with new USDA rules on competitive foods and to educate students about healthy living, culinary students researched, developed, and taste-tested healthy fresh recipes. Traditionally, cookies were used for fund raising. Culinary students experimented with new recipes, conducted market research, and administered taste-tests to develop healthier alternatives. The results included a healthy, whole grain-rich granola bar with fruits and nuts, a mini vegetable pizza pocket using whole wheat flour and low-fat cheese, and a whole grain soft cinnamon pretzel. In addition to this, fresh fruit smoothies were prepared.

Students were given cooking demonstrations and nutrition education from a program called Eat.Right.Now at Drexel University. The Food Trust visited the students and taught them about food systems, where our food comes from, how it is processed and how it is distributed. Lessons were also given on local foods, and the farm to table movement in the food industry. Local chefs visited the students and gave hands-on lessons which included preparing a healthy breakfast porridge, flatbread pizzas using fresh local vegetables, preparing a meal from a “mystery basket” filled with in-season, local foods from a farmer's market, discovering alternative baking with a vegan baker, and preparing a healthy stir-fry.

Culinary Arts students became involved in a club called HYPE (Healthy Youth, Positive Energy) which created a youth wellness program in the school. They attended a city-wide seminar and organized a Food Fun Fitness assembly at school which featured hip-hop singers and dancers who promote healthy lifestyles. They made posters celebrating healthy fruits and vegetables which were displayed during the assembly.

Students also participated in educating the community by doing cooking demonstrations and distributing materials at senior centers, community wellness days, and neighborhood wellness events. Students also volunteered at the Philly Farm Fest where they were able to meet local farmers and businesses that promote sustainable agriculture.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Penny Greenberg
Contact Person’s Title: Culinary Arts Teacher
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 329-7057

Objectives

  • To adopt healthy fund raising snacks
  • Develop healthy food marketing strategies
  • To implement a farm-to-table curriculum to teach students about local food systems
  • To engage students in school wellness efforts

Category

  • Nutritional Quality of Competitive Foods

Advice

  • Getting students involved in decision-making and hands-on cooking activities will spark their desire to eat better and share their knowledge with peers and family

Evidence of Success

  • Students developed healthy alternatives to cookies for fund raising.
  • Student excitement was so high that they are currently working on a plan where they will, in concert with school food service, prepare a meal that will be served in the cafeteria.

Tinicum School Plants School Garden Made From Pallets: Interboro School District

Description

Tinicum students readied their courtyard for raised plant beds, fruit trees, and bushes. The garden beds were created by using recycled pallets. Students picked a design from Pinterest and plotted where they wanted the beds and shrubs. The middle school courtyard was chosen due to the amount of sun it receives as well as the fact that it afforded students a 180 degree view. A large group of eighth graders helped cut up donated pallets . The students dug trenches and lined the pallets with weed screen which helped keep the dirt inside the beds. Students dumped numerous bags of soil on the bed and spread it out. The students decided to initially plant the following: honeydew, various types of peppers and tomatoes, eggplant, beans, and various herbs. In addition, students planted blueberry bushes and strawberries.

After a brief lesson about how to plant, the items were planted and surrounded by cages. Each day students water the plants and bushes. The items have started to bloom and strawberries are visible. The plants have tripled in size and student excitement is high. Students are busy weeding and picnic tables have been placed in the garden so that students can enjoy their lunch time there.

Eventually the produce will be harvested and used in the school kitchen and some of it will be brought to the Farmer's Market to help with the cost of upkeep for the following year. The goal is to make this an entirely student-run activity. Kitchen staff is working on recipes which will feature the garden produce and students are already signing up to come and help with summer garden maintenance. Future plans include adding a compost bin to help reduce waste and produce fertilizer.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Stephanie Farmer
Contact Person’s Title: Assistant Principal
Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 521-4450

Objectives

  • To increase student interest and knowledge about the food that they consume
  • To involve students in growing their own produce

Category

  • Healthy School Meals

Advice

  • If possible plant fruit trees as well as vegetables. Although it will take longer to show results, remember that the younger students in your school will be there for years.

Evidence of Success

  • Student excitement is, and has remained high.
  • The school cafeteria is busily creating recipes which will showcase the garden's produce.

Newport School District Students Decide Which Items Make School Menu

Description

Students in Newport School District participated in a program during the 2014-2015 school year that encouraged them to sample healthy, nutritious USDA recipes. Participants were rewarded with a sticker to show that they tried something new.

Popular items which made it onto the school menu include a potato puff bake (beef, mushroom soup, and tater tot casserole), beef stroganoff, chicken quesadilla, chickpea and tomato salad, and chickpea and cucumber salad.

Cafeteria signage was created which clearly explained to the students the necessary items needed to constitute a reimbursable meal. In addition to the signs, food items were kept in separate areas to distinguish fruits from vegetables. By making the students a part of the menu making process and informing them what they are entitled to with a reimbursable meal the students feel empowered and are more likely to purchase a meal. The result of the students' involvement in this program has resulted in an increase in lunch participation. Students showed positive attitudes toward this process and that was reflected in the increase in sales.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Ashley Sites
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
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Contact Person’s Phone Number: (717) 567-2505

Objectives

  • To promote participation in the National School Lunch Program by educating students on the components that make a reimbursable meal through line signage
  • To increase participation in the National School Lunch Program by using taste-testing and feedback forms to allow students to participate in determining which foods make the school menu
  • objectives

Category

  • New School Meal Patterns

Advice

  • Question the students about foods they most like or dislike prior to making recipe selections for sampling, but do not be afraid to have them sample items with which they are unfamiliar.
  • Listen to all of the students' opinions and make a decision based on the majority when deciding which items to put on the menu.
  • Don't forget to include signs which will promote the items and which are easily understood by the students.

Evidence of Success

  • Lunch participation rose from an average of 320 per day to 365 per day.

Lehigh Career & Technical Institute Hosts Consultant to Train Staff and Students

Description

Lehigh Career and Technical Institute (LCTI) brought in a guest speaker/consultant, Carol Gilbert, to work with the School Food Service Director to review menu planning, discuss incorporating healthy vegetables, review production records, and discuss student input and surveys. The consultant met with the culinary instructors to teach them how to calculate the new USDA Smart Snacks in Schools Guidelines (how to ensure that items are Smart Snack compliant), review the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) to ensure that the new meal patterns are being met, and address any questions and concerns. Two sessions were held with the staff and students in the culinary training programs at LCTI to cover the following topics: Food Safety, Menu Planning, Menu Portioning, Productivity, Calculating Smart Snacks, and HHFKA Compliance Criteria.

The staff members and students have  researched, developed, and taste-tested recipes. This resulted in the introduction of one or two menu items into the daily food service cafeteria program. These menu items are made from scratch by the Culinary Arts Department incorporating healthy food choices and portion control.

LCTI will continue to research additional menu items, introduce them into the food service program, and solicit feedback from the student population for a continuous improvement process.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Pamela Hittinger
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Supervisor
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Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 799-1349

Objectives

  • To train school chefs and food service staff regarding the new meal pattern requirements and the HHFKA
  • To have chefs revise recipes to meet HHFKA standards
  • To educate the Culinary Arts students on the new meal pattern requirements and implement the standards as they prepare and serve items in the cafeteria
  • To educate students on the new meal pattern requirements prior to and during their passage through the seven cafeteria lines at LCTI
  • To ensure proper portioning of food items to meet the HHFKA/new meal patterns

Category

  • New School Meal Patterns

Advice

  • It is critical to get all parties educated, trained, and involved in the process when it comes to making menu changes.
  • Healthy menu items and portions need to be first introduced to the staff and then to the student consumers.
  • Remember to include a media campaign (posters and fliers) along with introducing follow-up classroom lessons nutrition and portion control.

Evidence of Success

  • New food choices have been introduced to the school menu which meet the new meal patterns.
  • Students are trying different food choices and offering positive feedback on the new menu.

North Hills School District Uses Taste-Tests to Increase Consumption of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Description

Kindergarten students at North Hills School District are encouraged to taste-test foods after the close of lunch in the school cafeteria. The foods they taste are always fresh fruits and vegetables. They are not forced to try anything and they are not forced to finish something that they try if they decide they don't like the item. The Food Service Director believes that kids are more likely to try new items and be receptive to a wider variety of foods if introduced to them at an early age. In addition, the students learn that the cafeteria staff is approachable, and students become more willing to engage the staff and let their thoughts be known. Likewise, the staff interacts more with the students and school meals become more enjoyable for the students.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Eileen Watkins
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
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Contact Person’s Phone Number: (412) 318-1053

Objectives

  • To increase Kindergarten students' fresh fruit and vegetable consumption
  • To encourage students to try new food items
  • To instill a sense of fun and adventure in trying new food that will carry on throughout students' lives

Category

  • New School Meal Patterns

Advice

  • Encourage students to try items but do not insist that they finish them.
  • Praise students who try new foods.

Evidence of Success

  • There have been positive comments from students during lunch.
  • Students will often approach the food service director to announce that they are eating their fruits and vegetables or ask about upcoming taste-tests.

North Montco Technical Career Center Revamps Menu Items

Description

Traditional recipes which are high in calories and low in nutrition were modified with the goal of making them not only more nutritionally dense but also appealing to the eye and palate. Culinary Arts students revamped existing items by substituting ingredients (e.g. apple sauce in place of cane sugar, whole grain flour in place of white flour, low-fat cheese replacing whole milk cheese) while being mindful of texture, aroma, and taste. The food was tested not only for taste, but experiments were conducted on portion size as well. Students learned about portion sizes and engaged in an experiment which illustrated how the size of plates can influence a person's perception on the amount of food being served.

Students enrolled in Art classes created signs that announced the nutrition content of both the original and revamped items and taste-tests were conducted to ascertain which items were most successful. The results were sent to the administrators of the school to consider for future use.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Bob Lacivita
Contact Person’s Title: Curriculum Specialist
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Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 368-1177

Objectives

  • To offer students menu items which were nutritionally better than the similar items they will replace
  • To offer nutrition information to the students for all the school's menu items
  • To allow the Culinary students to develop menu items which are in line with the USDA Choose My Plate guidelines
  • To teach students how to make healthy choices and encourage them to do so

Category

  • New School Meal Patterns

Advice

  • Be prepared for the unexpected, and to be able to calculate calories and percentages.
  • Consider teaching students not only about calories, sodium, fiber, etc. but also about portion size.

Evidence of Success

  • The signs that were made which disclosed nutrition content were extremely popular and fostered discussion among the students.
  • Of the students surveyed 75% said that they would choose to eat healthy foods if given the opportunity.

Pennridge School District Has After School Cooking Club

Description

Pennridge School District offered an After School Cooking Club for kids in grades 3-5. The program was so popular that the kids who wanted to join were asked to submit a written paragraph on why they wanted to join. The group met one day a week for seven weeks. Students learned basic kitchen skills which required them to do basic math. They learned about food safety and were educated on the basics of nutrition.

The club was led by a local chef/parent as well as other volunteers. Each week a new recipe was prepared using locally sourced items. Recipes included Fruit and Yogurt Parfait, Bean Macaroni, Pumpkin Muffins, Apple Crisp, Sweet Potato French Fries, and Spicy Pepper Burritos. The students prepared the item, tasted the item, and then they had to come up with a recipe of their own which used the featured ingredient of the week. At the end of the club the teachers compiled a book of the students' own recipes.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Gina Giarratana
Contact Person’s Title: Director of Nutritional Services
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Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 453-2766

Objectives

  • To teach kids basic cooking skills through an after school club
  • To introduce students to new foods that meet school meal patterns
  • objectives

Category

  • New School Meal Patterns

Advice

  • We learned that it would be best to limit the grades to just 4 and 5 since the third graders were just a bit too young for the content of the class.

Evidence of Success

  • There was a tremendously positive response.
  • A second Winter Cooking Club filled up quickly and kids had to be put on a waiting list.

Radnor Township School District's After-school Cooking Club Develops Healthy Smart Snacks For Students

Description

Radnor Middle School's After-School Cooking Club developed tasty, Smart Snacks in School- compliant snacks and promoted them to their peers via taste-tests. First, club members familiarized themselves with the new Smart Snacks in School regulations. Then, they selected some snacks which they knew to be Smart Snacks compliant, and which they believed had the best chance of being accepted by their peers. They developed these recipes and adjusted them to their desired taste and unveiled “new and improved” recipes to their peers during lunch. Recipes which were developed and sampled included zucchini apple brownies, whole grain-rich blueberry scones with lemon glaze, and chocolate wholegrain cookies, with apple sauce taking the place of sugar.

The Cooking Club produced enough product so that all students were able have samples during lunch. They had an opportunity to give their feedback both verbally and in writing. Their research also ascertained the price at which the snacks should sell: 50 cents.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Barb Nissel
Contact Person’s Title: Consultant for Radnor Township Food Service Department
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Contact Person’s Phone Number: 610-761-5194

Objectives

  • To engage middle school students in the preparation and tasting of snacks that comply with the Smart Snacks regulations
  • To increase the acceptability of student snacks that comply with the new Smart Snack regulations
  • To use peer-to-peer interaction to increase the degree of acceptance of new regulations

Category

  • Healthy School Meals

Advice

  • Generate buy-in of the Smart Snacks standards by having students present the standards to other students.
  • Post signs of the new snacks on the serving line to remind the students of the tastings and of their input in creating the new snacks.

Evidence of Success

  • There was tremendous positive response to the taste testings.
  • Students have asked cafeteria staff for the recipes and to make the products available for sale.

Roberto Clemente Charter School Unveils “Meet Your Mascot” for Breakfast

Description

In order to increase school breakfast participation Roberto Clemente Charter School unveiled a “Meet Your Mascot” breakfast theme. The school decorated the cafeteria with balloons, introduced an apple crisp on the breakfast menu, and communicated the healthy benefits of apples and other assorted fun facts on the school cafeteria's bulletin board.

Students were greeted by the school's mascot, The Pirate Parrot, at the door to the cafeteria. He also handed out pencils to all who entered the cafeteria. The students also received erasers in the shape of fruits and vegetables, which were placed on the cafeteria's tables. This theme meal increased school breakfast participation from a normal 90-110 students to 140 students.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Roba Bozakis
Contact Person’s Title: Registered Dietitian
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Contact Person’s Phone Number: (484) 274-4200

Objectives

  • To increase breakfast participation

Category

  • School Breakfast

Advice

  • If you are introducing a new mascot it may be best to place it inside of the cafeteria (as opposed to the entrance) since some younger students may be too shy to enter the cafeteria.

Evidence of Success

  • Overall excitement for the event was high and response for the new menu item and mascot was overwhelmingly positive.
  • Breakfast participation increased over 25%

Scranton School District’s Healthy Bites Program to Encourage Healthy Lunch Choices

Description

Scranton School district added a program to their elementary lunch period every Friday, that allowed each student the opportunity to try a healthy snack sample. This program was chosen to encourage students to try the healthier options which are provided on the daily menu.  The program exposed students to choices they may not get to try at home. Most of the samples were chosen to feature items that would be new to the school menu in the coming months. It was a good way to allow students the opportunity to become familiar with a future menu item.

Every Friday the cafeteria staff would prepare and display the sample snack item on a table for students to see upon their arrival to the cafeteria. Staff were trained to encourage students to try the sample and cafeteria staff gave students nutritional information and pertinent facts regarding the sampled item. Lunchroom monitors would then pass samples of the snack to students as they ate their lunch. Sampled items included garbanzo beans, sugar snap peas, red pepper strips, cantaloupe, and whole grain crackers.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Angelina Sickora
Contact Person’s Title: AFSD/Registered Dietitian
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Contact Person’s Phone Number: (570) 815-0173 | FAX: FAX

Objectives

  • To encourage students to make healthier lunch room decisions
  • To expose students to a variety of healthy fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • To educate students on the benefit of nutritious snacks

Category

  • Working Toward Meeting the Healthier U.S. School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms

Advice

  • Choose snacks that are easy for staff to pass out to students.
  • Avoid any food that may pose a high risk of an allergic reaction or food intolerance.
  • Some samples may need repeated exposure to increase student participation/acceptability.

Evidence of Success

  • There has been an increase in acceptability of menu options such as red pepper strips and garbanzo beans.
  • Students anticipated and inquired about each week’s new samples.
  • There has been an increase in students' understanding of guidelines (the need to take either a fruit or vegetable each day with their reimbursable school lunch).

Fort Couch Middle School Promotes School Meals With Student Advisory Board: Upper Saint Clair School District

Description

Upper Saint Clair School District's Fort Couch Middle School has suffered from a decrease in school meal participation since new meal patterns were in effect. To combat this they formed a Student Advisory Board to help give insight into meals the students wanted, as well as generate interest in the school's Nutrition Center.

Two key participants in the program were the school principal and a teacher/advisor to the Student Council. A smaller group of the Student Council was used to form the “Nutrition Center Advisory Board.” These student leaders were used to generate excitement and elicit feedback from their peers. Initially this group met twice during the school year and it is planned that in the following school year they will meet once every marking period of nine weeks.

A student survey was also conducted. The school met with the IT department and it was arranged to have all seventh grade students complete the survey. The reason for not including eighth graders in the survey was that it was near the end of the school year and the eighth graders would be leaving the following year. The faculty really wanted to work on what the returning Fort Couch students would like to see the following year. The survey gave great insight into what the seventh graders are looking for in a school cafeteria.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Kimberly Cooper
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
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Contact Person’s Phone Number: (412) 722-5884

Objectives

  • To increase meal participation at Fort Couch Middle School

Category

  • Healthy School Meals

Advice

  • Have specific agendas and stay on topic. During the first meeting there was not a set agenda and all the students wanted to talk about what snack foods. They did not want to discuss reimbursable meals. This showed that they had little interest in the lunch program, which was already known.
  • Assign “homework.” Have the students bring ideas for the next meeting based on what your agenda will be. This way the students have already thought about the topic and they know that they will be keeping on-topic.

Evidence of Success

  • The students enjoyed having a say in their meals and participation increased slightly.

Wister Elementary School Uses Crockpots For Healthy Snacks and Nutrition Education

Description

Wister Elementary School found itself in a difficult situation: it had temporarily lost the full function of its kitchen. In order to combat this, and to ensure that the students had the option of enjoying a school breakfast, it was decided to bring crockpots into the classrooms. Initially, these were used to make items such as oatmeal. The school has since regained the function of the kitchen but the crockpots have remained as a means to provide students with nutrition education and healthy snacks.  Now each class is provided with the ingredients needed to make four to six dishes per classroom for the school year. The dishes consist of healthy, vegetarian meals such as various soups and porridges. A recurring theme is Colorful Crockpots which feature soups such as Orange Pepper, Yellow Squash, and Green Kale. The porridges feature whole grains. The students learn cooking and food safety skills by preparing the meals. The hallway has been decorated to promote the program by the Fifth Grade Hype Team.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Robin Lowry
Contact Person’s Title: Health and Physical Education Teacher
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Contact Person’s Phone Number: 215-620-0146

Objectives

  • To use Crock Pots in the classroom to teach healthy eating strategies and to reinforce My Plate concepts
  • To use signs in the cafeteria which will promote healthy eating and life choices
  • objectives

Category

  • Working Toward Meeting the Healthier US School Challenge

Advice

  • Consider making meatless meals to reduce the chance of food contamination.
  • Learn and abide by the safe food guidelines regarding time and temperature control.

Evidence of Success

  • The students have encouraged their parents to get crockpots and parents have asked for recipes.
  • The students look forward to the days when they get a crockpot snack and one class created a Crock Pot Dance.

Valley Grove School District Markets Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Description

Desiring a way to encourage students to choose fresh fruits and vegetables as part of their reimbursable school meal, Valley Grove School District devised a marketing plan. A different fruit or vegetable was featured each month on the school menu and that item was featured. A creative name, bold graphics, and various signs and locations were utilized to encourage students to choose the featured item.

The item chosen (e.g. Bongo Blueberries) was attractively displayed in strategic locations such as the exits from the school line and near the cash register. This also allowed cashiers (in conjunction with prominent signage) to gently suggest the item to passing students. Presentation and color were carefully considered to create the most attractive display possible.

Another tactic used was making fruit salads to encourage students to try an item with which they might not be familiar. For example, it is known that the students love grapes. Since they are an expensive, popular item they were mixed with other fresh fruits which were more affordable and less well known.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Jeremy Bergman
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
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Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 437-3759

Objectives

  • To increase fresh fruits and vegetable consumption during the service of reimbursable school meals

Category

  • Working Toward Meeting the HealthierUS School Challenge

Advice

  • Relentless promotion will generate interest and buy in from the students. It was fun to watch the interest in the program grow.

Evidence of Success

  • During the state audit the auditor commented on how excited the students were to see the fruit, and the large percentage of students who chose to take fresh fruit.