Patricia L. Fitzgerald 0000-00-00 00:00:00
That’s a Neat Idea! Everyone wins when you submit entries into school nutrition award competitions. There is no scarcity of creativity in the school nutrition profession. Whether it’s found in the way a director takes advantage of the latest technology, like social media, to interact with students and the community or the decision of a site manager to merchandise fresh fruit in brightly colored paper cupcake liners, operators at every level of this profession continually step up their game to find innovative approaches to problems. School Nutrition is always on the lookout for original and resourceful ideas that work, so that we can share these with our readers! For years, among the most reliable resources we have been able to turn to are nomination entries submitted to SNA award competitions (Heart of the Program, Louise Sublette Award for Leadership Excellence in Child Nutrition and Outstanding Director of the Year), as well as the annual industry-sponsored FAME (Foodservice Achievement Management Excellence) Awards. These nominations bring great ideas and new innovators to our attention, and most issues of the magazine are likely to showcase something we learned from judging and reviewing them. Take a look at some of the bright ideas we gleaned from the most recent FAME entries! Talkin’ Health Joanne Tucker, marketing director, San Diego Unified School District, initiated a yearly essay/poem/rap contest on a nutrition-related topic during National Nutrition Month. This has proven to be a great way to allow teachers to combine lessons about nutrition along with the development of English language skills. Lynne Duda, foodservice supervisor, Willamina (Ore.) School District, organizes a “Sports Friday” program. She recruits high school athletes and asks them to visit, wearing their jerseys, the elementary schools at lunch time, sitting with the younger kids and talking to them about healthy food choices and the importance of a healthy diet for athletic success. In Owensboro, Ky., many residents know School Nutrition Director Lisa Sims by another name: “Veggie Man.” To help promote increased consumption of fruits and vegetables—and build public awareness about the healthy school meals offered to students—Sims arranges for media coverage of her costumed visits to district schools. In addition, Veggie Man rolled through town on the school nutrition department’s float during Owensboro’s annual Christmas Parade. Waving to the crowd and encouraging parade watchers to enjoy a “Healthy Holiday Season,” Veggie Man and “his” entourage distributed bags of apple slices and baby carrots as a change from the conventional handouts of candy and gum. There are many strategies to introducing students to new products before adding them to school menus. Among the most effective are those that use a small group, like a Nutrition Advisory Council (NAC), to taste-test the items and provide substantive feedback. Laura Glenn, foodservice director, Norwalk-La Mirada (Calif.) Unified School District, wanted to apply this approach with her high school students, but didn’t have a NAC in place at that level. At some sites, she included samples on the line and personally visited the dining areas to interview students. At one site, however, she was able to take this a few steps further, by tapping the assistance of the school’s Entrepreneur the Club. Members of Club created a marketing plan for the new foods, and then followed through with test marketing among their peers. This allowed students to take ownership of the new menu items. In Colorado’s Jefferson County Public School district, Executive Director of Food Service Linda Stoll and Executive Chef Jessica Wright have found innovative ways to serve fresh “Colorado Proud” menu items all year long—even in winter. Wright developed an RFP with a local processor to clean and freeze Colorado cantaloupe, peaches, corn on the cob, potato wedges and butternut squash. In addition, Stoll and Wright established a “Quick Scratch” cook protocol. The district purchases cooked, “naked” protein—chicken, pork and beef with nothing added—from established processors and then uses those products in their own scratch recipes for signature school-made items. Teaming Up To best manage her widespread team that extends across 150 schools, Stoll restructured her leadership team beyond the traditional department administrators. She appointed a number of kitchen managers to serve as “Key Communicators.” This group meets every two weeks to help make decisions and then relay these back to their peers. Kevin Ponce, child nutrition director, Mid-Del Public Schools, Midwest City, Okla., recognizes the value of helping his school nutrition team to grow professionally. He established the Child Nutrition Credential Incentive Pay Plan. After proposing this plan to the Support Employees Union, Ponce won overwhelming approval to provide an hourly rate incentive with the achievement of one to three levels of SNA Certification. It allows employees to earn up to some $400 extra each year. District-level directors of school nutrition operations rely heavily on the engagement of individual site managers and their teams as critical factors in the overall success of the program. In Fayetteville, W.Va., Fayette County Director of Foodservice David Seay uses a simple but effective strategy to build this commitment. Each week he sends an e-mail to the foodservice staff—and the principals—of each serving site. The e-mail provides a comparison of the participation performance of their individual program against data from other sites throughout the county. Along with a regular note of encouragement, this communication helps to provide incentive for site teams to step up their game. Positive Partnerships In San Diego, Tucker approached a number of disparate community and state organizations to develop a coalition to promote the district’s nascent Summer Food Service Program. The group included the San Diego Hunger Coalition, the Mexican Consulate, Project LEAN, the San Diego Nutrition Network, California Food Policy Advocates, San Diego Department of Public Health, the Network for a Healthy California and the American Red Cross. At Tucker’s suggestion, the group agreed to kick-off the summer program with a large-scale event. Held during the first week of the summer, the event initially attracted 500 people, and now draws upwards of 2,000! Booths offer family-free information, plus there are games, music, crafts and even such guest speakers as professional athletes. Tucker also branded the program, calling it the Summer Fun Café. In Beavercreek, Ohio, Student Nutrition Supervisor Connie Little established a unique partnership with a local hospital on a nutrition education initiative for the district’s high school. Using points from vendor purchases, Little purchased laptop computers designated only for nutrition education purposes. These are placed on a NEWS (Nutrition Education and Wellness for Students) kiosk. Interns from the hospital help to provide regularly updated information for trifold blackboards that are featured on the kiosk. Standing Out in the Crowd In Yuma, Ariz., Crane Elementary School District School Nutrition Director Jane Johnson was long stymied in launching a much-need school breakfast program—especially on Monday mornings—for her 71% free/ reduced-price-eligible district. One by one, she found solutions to barriers and now Johnson focuses most of her efforts on creative promotions. Among these has been a National School Breakfast Week initiative to provide a grab ‘n’ go breakfast for parents, greeting all parents who drop off their children at one school site with a free curbside breakfast for everyone in the car, including younger siblings. The initial event was so successful, Johnson and her team planned to expand it to all sites the following year. Another innovative breakfast endeavor is being piloted by Kevin Ponce in Mid-Del Public Schools. Leading a team of administrators, teachers, cafeteria staff, custodians and bus drivers, Ponce is mapping out a strategy that will allow students to eat breakfast on their bus ride to school. Children will receive a breakfast bag and a ticket when they board the bus. Once at school, they will give their tickets to the teacher, who will mark the roster for attendance and participation before passing that list to the cafeteria staff. Ponce expects this initiative to increase breakfast participation by more than 35% across the district. For a promotion that tied Earth Day to the food served in schools (and at home) Beavercreek’s Little worked with the Heinz company, which donated more than 6,000 individual packages of tomato seeds to distribute to students throughout the district. In addition, a partnership with the Ohio Farm Bureau led to a large commercial farm tractor being parked in front of each of the district’s five elementary schools for the celebration. We All Win Whether big, sweeping initiatives or small little tweaks, fresh ideas are always a hot commodity in school nutrition programs. School Nutrition aims to bring these to you with every issue, but we need to hear about them! Why not go for a win for yourself, for your school nutrition team, for your district—and for your 55,000 peers reading this magazine each month? Check out the boxes on pages 84 and 86 for information about prestigious award programs tailored just for you! You Deserve Some FAME Do you know an exceptional school nutrition leader who deserves to be recognized for his or her achievement, innovation and service? How about you? The Foodservice Achievement Management Excellence (FAME) Awards program, sponsored by Basic American Foods, Schwan’s Food Service, Inc., and Tyson Foods, Inc., is seeking nominations for its annual competition. Award categories include Golden School Foodservice Director of the Year, Silver Leadership, Silver Spirit, Silver Rising Star and Silver Friend of Child Nutrition. The awards ceremony will take place at SNA’s Child Nutrition Industry Conference in San Antonio, Texas, in January 2013. Nominations are due September 26, 2012. For more information and nomination materials, visit www.fameawards.net. Be Outstanding! SNA recognizes the achievements of members working in schools and districts through three national awards programs: ■ The Heart of the Program. This award recognizes the valuable contribution of school nutrition employees who work with their manager in daily operations and exhibit an extraordinary commitment to the program. The entry must be submitted by March 1 to state presidents. ■ The Louise Sublette Award of Leadership Excellence in School Nutrition. This is the highest honor a school nutrition manager (someone who is based in a school and has supervisory or management responsibilities) can earn. The award is named in memory of Louise Sublette, a leader in SNA and Tennessee for more than 40 years. The award is given to a manager who has taken a special idea, developed it into a goal and used that goal to help the school’s nutrition program grow. A letter of intent must be submitted by December 1 to state presidents; the final entry must be submitted by March 1 to state presidents. ■ Outstanding Director of the Year. This award recognizes school nutrition directors at the district level. Candidates are evaluated on their innovations in program enhancement, staff development, school involvement, association involvement/promotion and community involvement. The entry must be submitted by an individual’s supervisor, staff or peers by March 1 to state presidents. Visit www.schoolnutrition.org/Content.aspx?id=176 for more information, criteria and deadlines.
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://mydigimag.rrd.com/article/Ideas+at+Work/1134648/120999/article.html.