Spacious skies, amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties… there sure is a lot to love about the USA! Yes, things here can seem bleak at times (the recession, partisan politics, the Kardashians, etc.). But let’s forget about all that for a week (at least) and celebrate one American staple that is definitely moving upward and onward: school meals! From Maine to Montana, Atlanta to Austin and Washington, D.C., to Washington state, schools will commemorate National School Lunch Week (NSLW), October 14-18, 2013. The NSLW 2013 theme, “School Lunch Across the USA,” celebrates regional flavors from across our wonderful nation. Whether you hail from the Rocky Mountain West, the warm, sunny South, the California coast or elsewhere in our 50+ states and territories, you’ll be sure to find plenty of inspiration and ideas for a truly festive NSLW! Every part of the United States has distinct flavors, ingredients, spices, traditions and ethnicities. This theme recognizes those regional differences, encouraging you to celebrate the hallmarks of your own area—and explore the unique qualities of other parts of the country, too! NSLW brings schools and districts so many benefits—a chance to connect with parents, a reason to call up a local reporter to showcase the healthy and tasty lunches provided by your operation, fun decorations and activities for kids and staff to enjoy and, of course, increased participation! According to a NSLW 2012 survey of SNA members, more than 80% of respondents who have organized NSLW activities reported a consequential increase in participation. Make 2013 the year to exceed your own participation goals—start planning early, try something new and think outside of the box! Food for Thought To get in gear for NSLW 2013, bring your staff together for a creative brainstorming session and consider: What makes our state or region special? Whether it’s your weather, professional sports teams, natural wonders or tourist attractions, begin identifying those special elements that make your region unique. You can incorporate these elements into decorations, activities and even your recipes—think decorative palm tree danglers in California, a lunchtime performance by the high school jazz band in Louisiana or Seahawks Salmon on the menu in Washington! What dishes are uniquely popular here or originated in this area? What’s the difference between Manhattan and New England clam chowders, and how did their popularity start? When you think of fajitas, you might think of Texas. Po’boy sandwiches originated in Louisiana. Chicago-style hot dogs are a famous American favorite, and sourdough bread is a San Francisco signature. What foods and recipes are staples in your part of the country? Are there distinct crops grown in the area? Consider Idaho potatoes or Florida oranges as examples. How does food culture vary across the country? Think of all the ways we describe a meat sandwich on a long roll. Depending on where you live, it could be called a sub, hoagie, grinder or hero. Sprinkles can be jimmies, and soda can be pop. Cornbread variations include Johnnycakes, hushpuppies and corn pone. Do you order a milkshake or a frappe? A moon pie or a whoopie pie? Pancakes or flapjacks? Consider how your own region refers to certain food items and discover how they differ around the country. How does cultural background influence taste trends among our students? “School Lunch Across the USA” provides the opportunity to highlight various ethnicities, and corresponding cuisines, that are prevalent in different areas of the country. For example, a district in southern Florida may have a high population of Cuban American students who will welcome a highlighted beans-and-rice dish or a traditional Cuban sandwich. School nutrition operators in South Dakota may want to recognize the heritage of area Native American communities with decorations and traditional dishes, while districts in the Pacific Northwest might showcase an array of sushi options. Beyond the Cafeteria The NSLW 2013 theme is designed to present school nutrition professionals like you with a wide range of patriotic, fun and educational opportunities for your annual celebration! While menu highlights and creative serving line decorations are obvious places to start, don’t confine your activities and energies to the cafeteria. Consider ways to get teachers and school staff on board and excited about this year’s theme, too. Teresa Darby, cafeteria manager for Harlan Elementary School, in Florence, Ala., is one school nutrition operator looking to engage her wider school community. “We will have a program with students and faculty working together to [learn more about] each region of the United States,” she reveals. “The teachers will have discussions on the different regions each day in class, and we’ll have songs and music from each region, as well as education on the healthy foods that each region provides.” Working with others in the school community not only can help you organize a more extensive NSLW promotion, but it’s always great to collect a wide range of fresh ideas and perspectives. It certainly gets the creative juices flowing! For example, your menu ideas may inspire a history teacher to discuss the influences of immigration waves. This, in turn, might motivate a music teacher to conduct a one-day lesson on famous American songs, which might encourage an art teacher to facilitate a USA-themed project or contest for students. The sky’s the limit! There are plenty of ways to involve teachers and faculty members in your NSLW celebration—just remember to fill them in on your plans and ideas well in advance! Jenilee McComb, school nutrition director for Provo City (Utah) Schools, plans to work with faculty to bring the NSLW theme full circle. “A few weeks before NSLW, we’ll have our managers in each school work with teachers to organize ‘What I Love about Utah’ artwork and essays from each student and classroom. We’ll hang the essays and artwork from each school in each lunchroom on the Friday before NSLW,” she says. One of the great things about NSLW is that it can bring a school community together. Julie Farris, SNS, director of nutrition programs for Rockwall (Texas) Independent School District, suggests one way to get students and teachers to connect with the all-American theme. “[You could] interview employees who were born, grew up or lived in different parts of the country and share the interviews with students, staff and the local community,” she offers. And this year’s theme lends itself to using today’s technology to expand that community. Consider the recommendation of Skye Grundy, RD, SNS, nutrition coordinator for Manatee County Schools in Bradenton, Fla. She suggests using the morning announcements to conduct a virtual “road trip” across the USA, highlighting different regions and spotlighting different foods each day of the week. “Students could even have pen pals or webcam chats with another school in a different region and compare their lunches that day!” Seek Student Input Each year, NSLW is a terrific occasion to get students’ input and feedback on the year’s theme, as well as favorite dishes and your lunch program in general. Kelli Cook, nutrition program project specialist for Carrollton City (Ga.) Schools, likes conducting quick surveys. This year, she says, “We will poll our students, faculty and staff about the region they are from and what regional food they enjoy the most. This will help us to create some in-class activities, as well as engaging our entire school’s interest in NSLW!” she asserts. Students love it when their ideas are heard, and seeing their feedback reflected in your NSLW promotion is sure to make them feel appreciated. Consider taking your request for input to the next level and offer students the chance to actually brainstorm recipes for NSLW, following the lead of Provo City’s Jenilee McComb. “We might organize a favorite Utah recipe contest with recipes submitted by students during the last week of August, judged with first-, second- and third-place winners and prizes. The winning recipe will be served during NSLW!” Grundy also likes the idea of a recipe contest and suggests archiving the recipes to make the NSLW 2013 memories last. “Have a classroom recipe contest to make a school cookbook!” she adds. No Place Like Home? NSLW 2013 is the perfect time to celebrate your hometown pride with students. In addition to serving up meals that are local staples, consider how you might recognize your region’s culture and history in the cafeteria. “Utah is known for their pioneers. We could have a Pioneer Day and have all the children dress up like pioneers. We can teach students to square dance and let children sample food that pioneers ate as they came across the Plains,” details McComb. “We’ll celebrate Utah foods and Utah traditions. A whole week of Utah!” Of course, your NSLW celebration can go beyond the flavors and culture of your own region. You also can choose to recognize traditional food and customs from across the country. For example, in Carrollton, Kelli Cook and her team will focus on a different region each day of NSLW, offering a locally grown or signature favorite item from that region on the menu (see the box on page 29 for specific suggestions). In addition, their promotions also will showcase their ongoing farm-to-school initiative. Meanwhile, Teresa Darby also plans to showcase menu items from across the country in Florence, Ala. “We will have a menu of the different regions each day of the week,” she notes, contemplating offerings for a possible “Western Day” or “Hawaiian Day.” Deborah Taylor, SNS, child nutrition director for Shawnee (Okla.) Public Schools, plans to mix it up with menu items that highlight both her own region and other regions across the country. “Here in Oklahoma, I’ll definitely menu our Indian Tacos. And from a nutrition standpoint, we know we’d be healthier if we ate more legumes. Why not menu a legume from each region each day? Black-eyed peas from the South, Navy or great northern beans from the North, pintos from the Southwest, etc.,” she describes. If you’re preparing a special menu, be sure to make the most of it! Add NSLW 2013 logos to your take-home and posted menus so students and parents are aware that it’s a special week. You also can indicate where your regional recipes come from on menus, in a handout or even a bulletin board. “I think most school sites have a big map of the USA,” muses Taylor. “I’d like to write the menu for the week and then make simple banners of those menu items and post them across the big map!” Rockwall’s Julie Farris also encourages operators to incorporate a map into their NSLW decorations. “Have colorful pictures of the foods the region is famous for—lobster from the Northeast, gumbo from the South, etc.” Whether you’re serving up special regional recipes, polling students on their favorite menu items, decorating the cafeteria with a U.S. map or inviting parents or local media to attend lunch, there’s no end to the ways you can make NSLW special and memorable for everyone. The “School Lunch Across the USA” theme is sure to resonate with students, cafeteria staff, teachers and parents. For even more ideas, see the list on page 33. Resource Round-up Feeling inspired yet? When you’re ready to start planning your NSLW celebration, remember that SNA’s member resource site, www.schoolnutrition.org/nslw, has everything you need to celebrate “School Lunch Across the USA.” The online tools will help you reach students, parents, administrators and the media, too! Be sure to check out the downloadable resources, brought to you with support from the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP): •a 10+-page toolkit, chock full of ideas and tips to make your NSLW celebration come alive; •ideas and a logistics checklist to facilitate National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day; •NSLW recipes from “Across the USA”— submitted by SNA members from across the country; •the official logo and artwork to add to your menus, posters, website, social media pages and handouts; •activity sheets for students and a backpack brochure for parents; •banner ads for your website and a special Facebook timeline photo created just for NSLW; •a tip sheet for inviting local, state and national lawmakers to lunch; and •PR tips to make media outreach simple and successful. Don’t forget to take advantage of the exclusive “School Lunch Across the USA” merchandise available at SNA’s Emporium. Whether you’re looking for posters, aprons, T-shirts, balloons, buttons or more, you’ll find everything you need at http://emporium.schoolnutrition.org. Get Patriotic With Parents Remember to reach out to parents during your NSLW celebrations. National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day is the perfect opportunity to educate them about the healthy food you’re serving in the cafeteria. On Wednesday, October 16 (or a day more convenient to you and your school administrators), invite parents to eat lunch with their children in the cafeteria. Serve up a special menu, decorate and consider ways to use the “Across the USA” theme to engage both parents and their kids. Need some sample ideas to get your creative juices flowing? Consider some of these activities: •Encourage parents and students to wear red, white and blue in recognition of the all-American “School Lunch Across the USA” theme. •Take photos of moms, dads and grandparents eating lunch with their special children. Post them to your school’s or operation’s Facebook page— and be sure to send them to SNA! •Prepare a brief (less than five minutes), simple presentation for parents about nutritious school meals. Highlight your healthy menu options and make it a point to highlight the regional/local foods you’re serving for NSLW! •Use the opportunity to get feedback from parents about your program. Develop a simple, 5 to 10 question paper survey and leave copies and pencils on the lunchroom tables. Collect the surveys after lunch. There’s a sample feedback form for you to check out at www.myhealthyschool.com/lunchday. For more information about how to organize a successful and fun Take Your Parents to Lunch Day, visit www.myhealthy school.com/lunchday. You also can find a tip sheet and checklist for this event in the NSLW 2013 Toolkit, available for download at www.schoolnutrition.org/nslw. Tying It Together Think of NSLW as an opportunity to move forward! Maybe your goal is to increase student participation. Perhaps you want to educate parents about your healthy options. Or maybe your top priority is to get some local media attention. Make sure this goal is at the heart of your NSLW planning. Whether you regularly go all-out for NSLW every October, it’s been an unchecked project on your to-do list “forever” or you just want to step up your efforts a bit this year, challenge yourself and your staff to put together a week that students, teachers and parents won’t soon forget! And when it’s all over, be sure to share your stories, pictures and triumphs with SNA! Tell us how you used the “School Lunch Across the USA” theme to promote your program, excite students and reach parents. Your stories and photos may be featured in the magazine and/or on the SNA Facebook page. Send a brief report and any photos you have to School Nutrition at email@example.com or mail it to: NSLW 2013 Wrap, School Nutrition, 120 Waterfront St., Suite 300, National Harbor, MD 20745. Don’t forget to spread the word about your NSLW celebration to your local media, parents and community. You can use your school or district’s website, newsletter, social media channels or local and school newspapers to help spread the word! So, go for it—make 2013 your biggest and best NSLW yet, and remember to have fun, get creative and try something new! REGIONAL REPASTS There are several ways to classify USA regions. For the purposes of NSLW, we’ve defined five areas of the country and collected a variety of crops and dishes considered hallmarks in each area. Use these lists as jumping-off points to help you brainstorm and research other locally popular foods. Consider highlighting a different region each day of NSLW 2013. NORTHEAST Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, D.C. Apples, blueberries, cranberries, cheese, Boston baked beans, cheesecake, chowder, seafood/shellfish, Italian sausage and peppers, Jersey tomatoes, maple syrup, New York-style pizza, Philly cheese steaks, Maryland crab cakes, Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine SOUTHEAST Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, West Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas BBQ, biscuits, black-eyed peas, catfish, chicken & dumplings, coleslaw, collard greens, cornbread, étouffée, Georgia peaches, grits, gumbo, ham, jambalaya, peas, peanuts, po’boys, red beans & rice, shrimp and crawfish, sweet potatoes, Florida oranges MIDWEST Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota, Kansas, Ohio, Michigan, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin Pot roast, bratwurst, cheese, cheese curds, corn-on-the-cob, Chicago-style hot dogs, Chicago-style pizza, Cincinnati-style chili, corn, ham & beans, hot dish casserole, Italian beef, juneberries, Kansas City BBQ, loose meat sandwich, meat & potatoes, Michigan cherries WEST California, Alaska, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Hawaii, Utah Bison burgers, blackberries, strawberries, California rolls, Cobb salad, fish tacos, potatoes, onions, almonds, walnuts, Pacific salmon, pineapple and passionfruit, rainbow trout, steaks, sushi, King crab SOUTHWEST Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma Black bean & corn salsa, brisket, burritos, chili con carne, enchiladas, fajitas, Frito pie, frybread, green chile stew, nachos, rice & beans, salsa, stuffed peppers, taco salad, tamales, tortilla soup Enter for a Chance to Win Exciting Prizes! Do you plan on organizing a National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day event in 2013? Enter the NSLW feedback sweepstakes and tell us about what you have planned. When you submit your intentions, you’ll automatically be entered for a chance to win a prize! At the end of August, September and October, SNA will conduct random drawings for 10 winners, for a total of 30 winners. Every winner will receive NSLW stickers and a Kiwi magazine subscription. Three special winners each will receive a copy of Kiwi’s Allergy-Friendly Food for Families cookbook. Complete and submit your entry at www. schoolnutrition.org/nslw/ sweepstakes. SERVING UP IDEAS AND INSPIRATION Menuing •Prior to NSLW, survey students about what part of the United States they’d most like to visit. California beaches? New York City? Rocky Mountains? Sunny Florida? After tabulating the results, serve up a dish that is associated with the most popular location during NSLW! •Serve different menu items that are associated with your region every day of NSLW. •Each day of NSLW, serve an item from one of the five different regions identified on page 29. •Get patriotic with your menu offerings. Try to incorporate red, white and blue colors or use star shapes and stripe patterns. Decorating •Post a USA map in the cafeteria and pin small pictures on top to identify regional foods across the country. •Ask members of your staff to dress up in various regional American costumes. You can have a Western cowgirl, a Midwest farmer, a West Coast surfer, a New England fisherman, a Southern belle and so on. •Boost regional pride among students by having them complete short essays or statements about what they love most about your region or state. Display their answers on a bulletin board in the cafeteria. •Print out pictures of famous American landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Mt. Rushmore or the Grand Canyon. Use the images to create a bulletin board of reasons to love life in the USA. Activities •Create a USA-themed musical playlist of songs to play in the cafeteria. Consider songs like: “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie, “America” by Neil Diamond, “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus, “Living in America” by James Brown or “American Land” by Bruce Springsteen. •Organize a trivia game or quiz, asking students to match various foods with their associated regions. Use the chart on page 29 for ideas to get started. Offer a prize for students that successfully complete the activity. PR and Media Outreach •Consider inviting local mommy bloggers, food bloggers or reporters to your cafeteria to engage in a regional foods quiz game or taste test. •Reserve one day of NSLW just to celebrate your regional and local cuisine offerings. Invite area reporters, bloggers and TV producers to attend your celebration and sample your operation’s menu offerings. Enter for a Chance to Win Exciting Prizes! Do you plan on organizing a National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day event in 2013? Enter the NSLW feedback sweepstakes and tell us about what you have planned. When you submit your intentions, you’ll automatically be entered for a chance to win a prize! At the end of August, September and October, SNA will conduct random drawings for 10 winners,for a total of 30 winners.Every winner will receive NSLW stickers and a Kiwi magazine subscription. Three special winners each will receive a copy of Kiwi’s Allergy-Friendly Food for Families cookbook. Complete and submit your entry at www.schoolnutrition.org/nslw/sweepstakes. The 2013 NSLW Preview was written and compiled by Emily Mannel, SNA’s marketing specialist.
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://mydigimag.rrd.com/article/Lunch%2C+Liberty+and+the+Pursuit+of+Happiness/1363752/153410/article.html.