Dayle Hayes 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Getting Into the Game! Putting the power of Fuel Up to Play 60 to work for you is easier than you may realize. Savvy school nutrition pros know that the coming months will necessitate some serious marketing efforts. Between ongoing media scrutiny that places disproportionate blame for childhood obesity on school meals and new nutrition standards that will necessitate significant menu changes for many schools, operators will be challenged to maximize meal participation. Indeed, school nutrition professionals will need all the help that they can get in marketing changes to students, families and the entire school community. Just consider the marketing blitz that a food company or restaurant chain rolls out whenever it introduces new products or makes menu changes. While a school meal program might not have the financial resources to mimic such an approach, it’s still often competing with a retailer or commercial foodservice operation. How can you and your school nutrition team level the playing field, find your own advantage or adapt traditional marketing strategies to meet your own needs? By now, you’ve probably heard about Fuel Up To Play 60 (FUTP60), an ambitious initiative launched in 2009 by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League (NFL) in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). FUTP60— an in-school nutrition and physical activity program—is in place in more than 70,000 schools, reaching an enrollment of more than 36 million students. According to the National Dairy Council, the program has marked several other impressive milestones: ■ More than 90,000 adults are enrolled in the program—and many are actively working with students to make sustainable, healthy changes in schools. ■ Nearly two-thirds of enrolled adults agree that the program is helping students to make healthier food choices; more than half say it is helping to increase opportunities for students to be physically active. ■ Some 7.5 million students are active FUTP60 participants. ■ FUTP60, with the support of dairy farm families, has bestowed a combined total of more than $20 million in funds and rewards to help participating schools. ■ Nearly half of enrolled schools have taken action to improve their healthy eating or physical activity environment. So, what do these statistics have to do with you and how you market your school nutrition program? It’s simple: FUTP60 is an effective means to piggy-back your local operation on a successful national program to create a positive buzz about healthy eating in any school. And buzz is exactly what every school nutrition program needs to market new meal patterns, new menus and new choices to student customers. Honestly, if you and your schools have not signed up to participate in FUTP60 yet, you are missing out! Missing out on what, you ask? In addition to the benefits associated with successfully getting children into the nutrition and fitness game, FUTP60 offers numerous other rewards. These are outlined in an online toolkit developed by SNA to support FUTP60: Make Fuel Up to Play 60 Work for Your School Nutrition Program (www.schoolnutrition.org/ FuelUptoPlay60). FUTP60 ■ can help increase participation levels in school breakfast and lunch programs. ■ can provide funds to implement exciting nutrition projects/activities. ■ can help your program earn recognition for excellence in school nutrition. ■ can assist schools in working toward health, wellness and academic goals. ■ offers multiple opportunities for earning CEUs for SNS Certification. ■ provides school nutrition professionals with many chances for building and using important leadership skills. Resist Reluctance Now, I can already hear a list of “Fine, but this program just won’t work for me” arguments going through your mind! It’s justifiable that you might think, “My staff is already overwhelmed with implementing the new meal patterns; I cannot get involved in another program!” And it wouldn’t be uncommon for you to protest, “That might work in some schools, but we just don’t have the administrative support for this.” Despite such reasonable reluctance, the FUTP60 opportunity is just too good to miss! Especially now. Especially because you are implementing the new meal patterns. That’s why it’s time to silence those inner negative voices and simply give it a try. One of the advantages of this innovative program is that it is highly adaptable to fit your needs—and your limitations. Following are three different levels of involvement in the FUTP60 game, showcasing real examples of school nutrition professionals (just like you!) who found effective ways to use FUTP60 to their advantage. THE COACH In this role, you are the program advisor, and while this is the most time-intensive way to participate in FUTP60, many operators affirm that it is, by far, the most rewarding. As advisor, you will ■ Organize and meet regularly with student team members to choose nutrition and activity “plays” (specific goals, strategies and/or activities). ■ Share program goals and plays with school administration and staff. ■ Work with local dairy councils to coordinate activities and to write proposals for funding support. Hall of Champions: Jenifer Hiatt, kitchen lead (manager) at Oak Hills Elementary School in Beaverton, Ore., earned state-level recognition as 2011 Program Advisor of the Year. With administrative support and encouragement from School Nutrition Director Susan Barker, Supervisor Charity Ralls and Oregon Dairy Council staff, Hiatt overcame her naturally shy nature to take on a strong leadership role with FUTP60, and the experience allowed her to blossom into a true nutrition educator. While this FUTP60 team turned the cafeteria into a genuine classroom, they took nutrition education to the entire school, through the development of posters, skits and taste tests. The success of FUTP60 at Oak Hills dramatically increased Hiatt’s contact with other school staff members and brought the school meals program well-deserved recognition when she won the statewide award. THE CHEERLEADER As a FUTP60 team member, you can be involved in the program without all the details and responsibilities of the program advisor. Remember, every team needs many cheerleaders! As a team member, you will ■ Meet with students and the program advisor to cheer on, as needed, the specific nutrition-related plays that were identified by the team. ■ Provide information and background for nutrition activities as needed. ■ Attend and publicize kick-off and other events throughout the year. Hall of Champions: In Southern Maine, Jeanne Reilly, SNS, is nutrition director for the six-school RSU #14 district. Reilly is doing lots of cheering these days, since the middle school was the recipient of $4,000 in FUTP60 funding to support an “extreme makeover” of the kitchen/cafeteria, scheduled to be completed by fall. The student FUTP60 team and program advisor (the district’s health coordinator/grant writer) spearheaded a contest to name the re-done “café,” leaving Reilly free to concentrate on design and equipment issues. She sees FUTP60 as a perfect means to jointly market the new meal patterns and the renovated cafeteria to her community. Reilly loves the excitement that FUTP60 brings to this project and views it as another venue for building trust and confidence in her district’s nutrition program. THE BOOSTER You can be a supporter of FUTP60 even if your time is limited. As a champion of the program, you can participate when you are available and when the team really needs some support. ■ Meet with students and/or the program advisor to be an expert advisor for specific nutrition plays; ■ Assist the team in finding necessary resources (people, equipment, etc.) for successful nutrition-related activities. ■ Promote the program to a variety of groups and organizations. Hall of Champions: Doreen Simonds, nutrition services manager, Waterford (Mich.) School District, oversees 20 sites. A 25-year veteran of school nutrition, Simonds has been a dedicated booster of FUTP60 since the program began. In a new supervisory role in the school nutrition department, she lets teachers and managers take the lead with FUTP60, while she supports nutrition and physical activity plays district-wide. Simonds credits FUTP60 with helping Waterford achieve multiple HealthierUS School Challenge awards, as well as a trip to the White House to celebrate with First Lady Michelle Obama. She believes that FUTP60’s national recognition (and ties to the local NFL team, the Detroit Lions) have helped to generate both excitement about and a commitment to making healthier food choices. In one FUTP60 school, taste-testing activities have led to a dramatic increase in fruit consumption. We’re Recruiting! Ready to join the FUTP60 team? As it is for many school sports teams, summer is a great time to get started. But unlike those organizations, there are no tryouts or grueling practices involved! It’s an easy three-step process. 1. Download a copy of SNA’s online FUTP60 toolkit, Make Fuel Up to Play 60 Work for Your School Nutrition Program, at www.schoolnutrition.org/futp60. The kit offers testimonials from many school nutrition professionals who are taking advantage of the power of FUTP60. It will walk you, step by step, through the process of getting started. 2. Contact your local dairy council representative. If you aren’t already acquainted, you can find your representative through the online Dairy Council Directory. (Visit www.nationaldairycouncil.org and click on the About NDC link at the top of the page.) Each local dairy council has staff members who are specially trained to help you succeed with FUTP60. Your representative can help guide you through the funding application process and let you know which nutrition and activity plays are best for your site. Dairy council affiliates also are involved in recognizing Program Advisors of the Year and choosing student FUTP60 ambassadors for each state. 3. Attend FUTP60 sessions held at state and national conferences. Most 2012 school nutrition meetings will have at least one session devoted to FUTP60. This is a great opportunity to meet dairy council staff—and hear from seasoned program veterans like Hiatt, Reilly and Simonds. They want to help you get in the game, too! There’s no doubt that your school nutrition plate is already very full as one school year ends and the next begins to ramp up. But there’s also no question that marketing your school meals program must be among your highest priorities come fall. Don’t go it alone. Use FUTP60 to build a team that will support your current efforts, spread the word about your achievements and help you develop new ways to meet your mission. Dayle Hayes is a nutrition consultant and speaker based in Billings, Mont. You can reach her at EatWellatSchool@gmail.com.
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.
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