What new menu items and innovations has your school nutrition operation introduced this year? Perhaps you’ve added a wider variety of fruits and vegetables to your lunch menu, or maybe you’ve purchased some new equipment that gives you the chance to offer more home-style options than ever before. Or, maybe you’re pleased to announce the news that one or more of your district’s schools earned recognition in the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC). If one or more of the above transitions applies to your operation—not to mention additional success stories you can tout—this year’s National School Lunch Week (NSLW), October 15-19, 2012, is the perfect opportunity to share such achievements with your community, both at school and throughout your district. That’s because the 2012 NSLW theme, “School Lunch: What’s Cooking?,” is designed to showcase the vital role that school meals play in nurturing future generations of healthy, successful children, while encouraging all those who create and serve those meals to shout out their accomplishments from the rooftops, drawing attention to the creativity, pride and dedication that is on display every day. Last year, we offered an early sneak peek of the NSLW theme to a select group of readers who consistently demonstrate passion and engagement in creating successful NSLW promotions. Their ideas for celebrating last year’s “School Lunch: Let’s Grow Healthy” theme were so inspiring (April 2011) that School Nutrition is once again turning over the pages of its annual NSLW preview to a group of promotional experts. Read on to discover many of the inventive suggestions cooked up by your colleagues in districts large and small. You just may find that employing one or more of their ideas—or a combination thereof—will help you look at your team’s accomplishments in a new light and offer some fresh “ingredients” for up a memorable NSLW of your own! (And if you’re looking for even more kid-friendly ideas to help you celebrate NSLW in style, see “Ideas on Full Boil,” page 24.) Stir Things Up What better way to start off your “What’s Cooking?” promotion than by highlighting the healthy foods you serve to students? Jenilee McComb, child nutrition director for Provo City (Utah) School District, plans to tie in her district’s NSLW promotion with Farm to School Month, also held annually in October. “On each day of NSLW, we will highlight fresh fruits and/or vegetables and the farm where they were grown,” she explains. McComb envisions creating and displaying posters and informational table tents, as well as inviting the farmers to join the students for lunch on the day that their farm is spotlighted. Expanding on the idea of inviting guests to eat lunch, consider asking some—such as local chefs—to help prepare the meal, suggests Linette Dodson, SNS, school nutrition director for Carrollton City (Ga.) Schools. Another idea: Perhaps members of your school’s student Nutrition Advisory Council could help develop new recipes and assist in distributing test samples to their classmates. At Evanston Township (Ill.) High School District 202, spotlighting the school’s garden has been a great way to draw positive attention to the school meals program, reports Emily Conti, assistant director of nutrition services. “We try to advertise when we serve foods from the garden in staff or student meals. We’ll introduce new items like lemon cucumbers and put up flyers with descriptions and nutrition bene fits,” she explains. Conti finds that students and staff alike are more likely to purchase menu items and to try new things when they know that the ingredients were harvested from the school garden. Kids as Cooks If your students have caught the cooking bug, this year’s NSLW theme is a great way to include them in some food preparation activities. Skye Grundy, SNS, dietitian and nutrition coordinator for Manatee County School District, Bradenton, Fla., offers a variety of suggestions for getting kids into the NSLW spirit: ■ Look into appearing on your school’s televised morning announcements accompanied by select students to host a mini cooking demonstration. ■ Invite culinary students from your district’s high schools to perform cooking demonstrations for younger students. The older students could demonstrate healthy ways to prepare fruits and vegetables. ■ Give your students the opportunity to be cooks for the day. Provide them with inexpensive paper chef’s hats and involve them in the preparation of breakfast or lunch (with supervision from your staff, of course). ■ Open up your school’s kitchen for an in-school field trip. Take students on a tour of the kitchen and explain why and how your staff bakes and steams food. Give them a lesson on food safety and have them wash their hands and wear hairnets. Are you noticing a desire among youngsters to do some more cooking of their own? NSLW might be a good opportunity to conduct a student recipe contest. Provo’s Jenilee McComb is excited about a series of recipe contests she envisions conducting in her district in conjunction with NSLW. “During the last week of August, every lunch manager in each school will visit [their school’s] classrooms and announce our entrée recipe contest, [as well as] rules and guidelines for recipes submitted,” she details, adding that parental assistance is permitted—and encouraged. The winning recipe will be tested, modi fied, if necessary, and chosen two weeks before NSLW, explains McComb, noting that the timeline will give managers enough of a window to order the necessary ingredients. The winning recipe from each school will be featured on that site’s lunch menu the Wednesday of NSLW—along with the student’s name featured in the recipe’s title. Students in each school will be given a copy of the winning recipe, and the first-, second- and third-place winners from each school will receive a small book featuring a compilation of all of the contest entries. McComb has some past experience with recipe contests at the elementary school level, so she has high expectations for this NSLW activity: “Holding a recipe contest is a wonderful way to come up with new, healthy and nutritious recipes and include our students. They love it and love seeing their names on the menu calendars, if they submit a winning recipe!” Manatee County’s Grundy offers another spin on a student recipe contest. She suggests making it speci fic to recipes featuring fruits or vegetables. Winners can be added to regular breakfast or lunch menus, featured once or sampled, she notes. [Editors’ Note: For more on cooking with kids, see “Kids’ Cooking Takes Center Stage,” February 2012.] Kids + Creativity = A Winning Combination If you’re looking to coordinate some activities for kids that aren’t centered on cooking, engage them through art activities focused on the “What’s Cooking?” theme. For example, Teresa Darby, child nutrition program manager at Harlan Elementary School, Florence, Ala., proposes that, at the start of NSLW, you or a teacher provide children with paper to draw their rendition of a healthy school meal. Collect these until the end of NSLW when, after a week of nutrition education activities, you can return the original drawings and ask the youngsters to draw a new picture of a healthy school meal. Leave time to compare and contrast the two images and encourage discussion about the components of healthy, balanced meals. Once your students are in the NSLW spirit, give them the chance to play the role of school nutrition professional! Ask them how they would prepare their own versions of a popular item served in your school or district (for example, a big hit in Darby’s school is Oven Baked Chicken), and post their responses on the cafeteria walls. Or, she suggests, invite them to help select menu items to serve during NSLW. Provide a limited list of options and tally votes by grade level. The winning menu from each grade can be served on a different day of NSLW. Publicize to Parents NSLW is a prime opportunity to showcase your program to parents and others in the community. Julie Farris, SNS, director of nutrition programs for Rockwall (Texas) Independent School District, is a proponent of participating in an area-wide tasting event. “We will have a ‘food show’ at a Taste of the Town event put on by our local Chamber of Commerce. We will have samples of food items selected by students who participate in our Youth Advisory Council,” she details. Farris also suggests inviting school nutrition managers and some Youth Advisory Council members to speak with attendees about the school meal program. Sharlene Wong, SNS, school nutrition director for Wallingford (Conn.) School District, also believes in the value of participating in such a community-wide tasting event. “Parents—especially community members—will be surprised at how tasty and appetizing school meals really are,” she asserts. If there aren’t opportunities to participate in a tasting event held by your community, there’s always the option to hold your own event at your school, adds Skye Grundy. Call it Taste of [insert your school name] Night, and invite parents to try food products served in your cafeteria. Be sure to include nutritional facts. Another option, offers Wong, is to attend all of the school open houses in your district and provide samples of the foods served in your operation. And, of course, inviting parents to enjoy lunch with their children is a classic NSLW activity. SNA and KIWI magazine will sponsor a National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day promotion on October 17. Participating schools interested in learning more about this promotion should visit www.myhealthyschool.com. Spread the Word School nutrition professionals know that school meals provide fuel to help students perform their best in the classroom and on the playing field. Borrow an idea from Teresa Darby and take photos of students eating lunch, then completing work in the classroom or participating in a physical activity during gym class or after school; post a collage of these on a bulletin board or in the halls. In addition to helping to demonstrate the energy boost that school lunch provides, the photos also will communicate to students how many of their peers enjoy school lunch—and, surely, you know the important value of peer power on cafeteria participation! In addition to in-person promotions, use the occasion of NSLW to create valuable content for the school nutrition pages of your school or district’s website. Be speci fic: What’s new this school year? Be sure to highlight new menu items, new staff, a newly renovated or open cafeteria and so on. Freshen up links, as well as information about healthy initiatives. Have you added the TrayTalk.org link to your page? If not, this is a perfect time to do so! Sharlene Wong also suggests posting educational content, such as brief outlines of the history of any fruits, vegetables and grains that will be served during NSLW; be sure to include recommendations about how parents can shop for such items to stock family pantries and refrigerators. Post photos of the school lunches served by your operation to provide a visual representation of your team’s healthy initiatives. Take your online efforts a step further by including recipes that families can make at home. “Make sure you adjust the number of servings for family size,” Wong says. Resources at the Ready After those ideas, you must be charged up to explore the many creative ways your school or district can celebrate NSLW 2012: “School Lunch: What’s Cooking?” in October! It’s not too early to start compiling your resources and brainstorming speci fic activities and promotion ideas with your team or developing a list of the supplies, materials and resources you’ll need for a memorable celebration. Be sure to check out the helpful and fun materials made available by SNA, with generous support from the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP). On the NSLW member resources website, www.school nutrition.org/cooking, you can access the of ficial NSLW 2012 Toolkit, which features an assortment of celebration ideas and support materials, including: ■ healthy and creative recipes developed by your school nutrition peers, such as Red Cabbage and Apple Slaw, Fiesta Flatbread, Chicken Creole, Barley Risotto and Harvest Muf fins (to submit a schoolprepared recipe for consideration for possible inclusion on the NSLW website, send your recipes to snmagazine@ schoolnutrition.org); ■ backpack brochures for families; ■ downloadable presentations that can be used at parent-teacher or other community meetings to help provide facts and dispel myths about school lunch; ■ press releases, p.r. tips and customizable proclamations; ■ activity sheets, including coloring pages and word search games; ■ NSLW banner ads for use on school websites; and ■ a permission form for of ficial NSLW logo and artwork usage. Also, be sure to check out the exclusive “School Lunch: What’s Cooking?” merchandise and decorations available from the SNA Emporium. Themed t-shirts, aprons, posters and more all can be found at http://emporium.schoolnutrition.org. SNA recognizes that each school nutrition operation is unique and has different menuing needs, especially when it comes to implementing the new meal pattern rules and working toward meeting various wellness initiatives, such as the HUSSC designation. Thus, rather than offering suggested NSLW menus this year, SNA encourages you to design menus of your own that feature schoolprepared recipes. As noted above, you are welcome to submit your recipe to snmaga email@example.com for possible inclusion on the of ficial NSLW website. Cook Up Something Special! Celebrate NSLW 2012 to its fullest potential, by serving healthy, tasty meals to your students and by promoting your program’s achievements to others throughout your school and district at large. Allow some of the ideas shared in this article by your peers from around the country to serve as inspiration, and be sure to participate in some creative brainstorming with your team. Once you get a rough outline of plans together, enter SNA’s NSLW Sweepstakes by telling us what kinds of activities you will conduct to promote “School Lunch: What’s Cooking?” and how you anticipate the theme will impact your school lunch participation levels. Complete the sweepstakes participation form on the NSLW resources website for the chance to win “School Lunch: What’s Cooking?” stickers to distribute in your cafeteria. Flash forward six months: Mark your calendar now to remind yourself that once NSLW 2012 is behind you, be sure to share your success stories with local media, the school newspaper and district website, your state af filiate, TrayTalk.org, SNA’s Facebook page, the NSLW member website and, of course, School Nutrition magazine! Tell us how you used the “School Lunch: What’s Cooking?” theme to promote the value of school meals and your operation’s accomplishments and innovations. Send a report of activities and high-resolution photos to School Nutrition at firstname.lastname@example.org or NSLW 2012 Wrap-up, School Nutrition, 120 Waterfront St., Suite 300, National Harbor, MD 20745; you may see your creativity showcased in next year’s wrap-up article! Above all, have fun with your “What’s Cooking?” promotion! NSLW is an annual opportunity to explore your creative side, get silly and have a blast with your school nutrition staff. It’s also a great time to honor yourself and your team. Every day, you play a valuable role in making a difference in your students’ health by featuring tasty, nutritious meals on lunch menus—that’s something to be proud of! Who’s cooking this year during NSLW? You! Ideas on Full Boil Raise the bar to turn a good NSLW promotion into a great promotion that captures the hearts of students and the attention of parents and the media. COSTUMES • Invite a student or group of students to don school nutrition uniforms (don’t forget the hairnets, visors and hats!) for a day and help serve lunch. • Supply special chef accessories, such as hats or coats, to your staff, or encourage them to flex their own creative muscles by dressing like “doctors of nutrition” or “mad nutrition scientists.” DECORATIONS • Display images of brightly colored foods, along with pots, pans and skillets, on cafeteria walls. • Decorate one of your school’s common area bulletin boards— one with ready visibility to visiting parents or community members— with photos of your school nutrition team at work. • Decorate your cafeteria walls and/or menu line with photos of kids cooking. INVITED GUESTS • Invite parents and grandparents to eat lunch with their students on one day during the week. • Extend invitations to local government of ficials and community service professionals, such as police of ficers and paramedics, to join the celebration or to help serve lunch one day. • Ask local chefs to assist in preparing and serving the meal. • Reach out to your local college or university’s nutrition, dietetics or hospitality students to invite them to play a part in NSLW celebrations, perhaps by offering a cooking demonstration or sharing nutrition facts. • Think big and send details about your NSLW activities to local news channels, inviting them to make arrangements to cover the story live and in person. SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS • Invite local fire fighters to talk to students about cooking safety, how to guard against setting a careless fire in the kitchen and what to do if a fire breaks out. • Partner with area colleges and universities that offer nutrition or dietetics courses and invite college students to teach about the various health bene fits of different foods. Encourage some long-term mentor relationships with older students who might be contemplating a career in nutrition or dietetics. • Request small food donations from local grocers and farmers to help you present fun and educational sampling or hands-on scratch cooking activities. ACTIVITIES AND GAMES • Entertain and engage students by coordinating a version of “School Food Feud,” adapted from the long-popular “Family Feud” television game show. Players might be representatives from certain classes or grades or a group of teachers. Survey a different group of students or adults in advance using multiple choice options to designated questions. For example: What do students prefer to eat with whole-grain pasta? (The survey says: Meatballs, chicken bites, vegetable salad, fruit salad.) Players must guess the most popular responses. • Borrow some inspiration from “Iron Chef”! Ask your students to develop the ingredients and directions for a dish they would like to see served in the cafeteria. • Do your students know what’s cooking? Members of your team can describe a food for the students to guess. Examples: “I am small and crispy and can be dipped in ketchup or barbecue sauce. What am I?” (a Chicken Nugget) “I am washed before served, I can have seeds or be seedless and my favorite colors to dress in are red, purple and white, although sometimes my white wardrobe is mistaken for green. What am I?” (Grapes) This idea also can be converted to an activity sheet for solitary play. BONUS WEB CONTENT National School Lunch Week is a great opportunity early in the school year to share positive messages about your school nutrition program. But it’s more important than ever to market the bene fits of school meals and the achievements of your operation all year long. Visit www.schoolnutrition.org/snmagazinebonus content for more great marketing and outreach best-practice suggestions.
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://mydigimag.rrd.com/article/School+Lunch%3A+What%E2%80%99s+Cooking%3F++/1017689/105863/article.html.