FOOD FUN Feeling Lucky? Want to boost your good fortune in 2016? Legend suggests you should whip up a dish featuring black-eyed peas to enjoy on New Year’s Day. But how exactly did this pale-colored legume, which features a prominent black spot, gain such a reputation for being tight with Lady Luck? There are a few backstories when it comes to this tradition. One hails from the Southern United States during the Civil War. At the time, black-eyed peas were considered a decidedly low-brow food, only fit as animal feed—or for slaves, who had brought the crop from Africa. So when Union soldiers plundered the food supplies of Confederate troops, they tended to leave behind only salted pork and black-eyed peas. Still, Southern troops survived winter on those dismal supplies and considered themselves lucky to have done so! In a related version of the story, the scorched earth policy of General Sherman on his march through the South destroyed cotton, tomatoes, potatoes and any other crop of value. Black-eyed peas were left, since they were considered a staple only for the slaves, but they allowed many Southerners, including their former slaves, to stave off famine during the long winter that followed. The American South yields another potential root of the legend. On New Year’s Day 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued—and newly freed slaves reportedly celebrated with the only dish they had available: black-eyed peas. Another story stretches back much, much earlier and involves Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. In the Babylonian Talmud, a central text of Rabbinic Judaism, a passage states that you should eat a number of foods, including black-eyed peas (as well as leeks, beets and dates), for luck in the new year. No matter which legend you choose to believe, it’s become customary in the United States to soak your black-eyed peas overnight in cold water (so they cook faster), and then simmer them with an onion and ham bone. Some cooks add tomato, while others add spices and hot pepper for a bit of a kick. And, so the story goes, adding some cooked collard greens (the color of money) will make your peas even luckier! TECHNOLOGY The Infobesity Epidemic Have you ever fallen down the rabbit hole that is Wikipedia or other similar informationrich websites? Meaning, you look up one particular topic and then click on a related topic, which leads you to a link to another page and so on. Next thing you know, it’s been an hour of consuming information, and your brain is exhausted from taking it all in. This is just one form of infobesity, also known as information or cognitive overload. According to one expert, Daniel Levitin, author of The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, humans have created more information in the last 10 years than in all previous human history. (Thanks, Internet!) In a single decade, society has leapt from producing 30 exabytes of information to more than 300 exabytes. (One exabyte is one quintillion bytes; to compare, your standard 16-gigabyte iPhone can hold about 1 billion bytes of data.) That’s a whole lot of information, and attempting to take in even a small fraction can cause you to lose judgment, focus and the ability to keep track of details. So how do you, as an information consumer, reduce the effects of this plaguing problem? Information in, information out. When you feel your brain getting overwhelmed with details, “dump” these out onto paper as a strategy to clear your mind. Write down any thoughts, ideas or nagging concerns, whether it’s a problem you’re having with a coworker or just an item you need to pick up at the grocery store. Having all these thoughts floating around your brain prevents you from targeting what’s a priority; dumping them out will help you focus. Take breaks. Do you hear that? Retreat from that rabbit hole of information! People who take 15-minute breaks every few hours are more efficient overall. Use this as an excuse to stand up, walk outside and take a few deep breaths. If you can swing it, pencil in a 15-minute nap—these are even more effective than regular breaks! End the “multitasking masquerade.” You might think you’re being productive while checking your email during a staff meeting or catching up on a favorite TV show while finishing some paperwork—but you’re likely not doing your brain any favors by cramming in two things at once. Your brain has a finite amount of space for attention and productivity, so instead of giving those two (or more!) tasks the focus they require, you’re never quite getting in the zone. In the end, it will take you longer to finish both tasks than if you had focused on one at a time. Information overload can be truly stressful, cause you to make mistakes and leave you constantly doubting your decisions. Click away from information-loaded websites, focus on one task at a time and you’ll be happier—and healthier—for it. FARM TO SCHOOL It’s Crantastic! While cranberry bogs aren’t uncommon in Massachusetts, two new bogs in Wareham certainly break the mold—because they are located at a school! This past spring, Wareham Middle School (WMS) became the first in the nation to break ground on its own working cranberry bogs, constructed to serve as a hands-on educational asset for students and teachers alike. This revolutionary idea was executed by the school’s STEAM Academy, a group of seventh-graders enrolled in a rigorous Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-Mathematics curriculum. Eventually, the bogs will turn into open classrooms for all WMS students. The plan is to cover the science related to growing the bog, the technology used for harvesting, the engineering behind the industry’s machines, the marketing of the berries, the business behind selling the products and so on. Grant money from the Cranberry Educational Foundation was provided to build the bogs and students were directly involved in their construction. The first crop of cranberries was scheduled to be harvested as this magazine went to press. School garden projects can take many forms and be funded by unexpected partners. Set a New Year’s resolution to work together with teachers, parents and other stakeholders in your school to partner on school gardens and other cross-disciplinary approaches to teaching and meeting curriculum goals. THE GENERATION GAP Who Are the Millennials? You know the Baby Boomers—previously the largest American generation, it’s officially defined as those born between 1946 and 1964. The “Greatest Generation” is said to be comprised of folks in their prime during World Wars I and II, while Generation X supposedly follows the Baby Boomers through a neat 20-year period of 1964-84. But who are the Millennials? Some experts contend that Millennials directly follow Generation X (totally ignoring the Generation Y advocates), with birthdates extending from the early ’80s to 2000. The Pew Research Center sets the millennial generation as specifically those born before 1997, while the authors of Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation let the end date slide to 2004. Regardless, there’s full agreement that Millennials now make up the largest generation in American history, numbering between 80 and 92 million. (Sorry, Boomers, at your height, there were only 77 million of you.) Given the course of that 20-year span, you may have millennial customers and millennial coworkers. Some key observations will help you understand and get along better with both groups, as well as with the millennial parents of students! • While many of the older millennials do remember a time before the Internet, they’re generally used to living in a digital world—and they have come to expect things to be digital. For school nutrition operations, this means having a vital online presence, engaging in social media and connecting with customers via smartphone apps. • Wellness is a daily pursuit for most millennials. They tend to exercise more, eat smarter and smoke less. Millennial parents might be more likely to inquire about school menus. • Nearly 50% of all millennials have a college degree. You may find their viewpoints are insightful, if not always accurate. • Some 15% of American millennials were born in a foreign country. Have you considered adding more ethnic options to your menu? Interested in learning more about how to bridge the generational divide? Visit SchoolNutrition.org, log in to your account and review “Understanding Millennial Moms: Your Future Customer,” in the Presentations Library (Meetings and Events tab) for the 2015 Annual National Conference. Also, check out an interactive graphic about the millennial generation at http://tinyurl.com/millennial-infographic. Finally, consider registering for SNA’s 2016 School Nutrition Industry Conference, which will feature a general session on “Crossing the Generational Divide: Unlocking Strategic Advantages.” Visit www.schoolnutrition.org/snic for details. HEALTHY HABITS Catch up on Your ZZZs! A good night’s sleep is essential to a productive day, as well as to your overall health. But how often do you get a full night’s rest? The National Institutes of Health suggest that adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep every night. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), however, note that anywhere from 50 million to 70 million American adults suffer from sleep or wakefulness disorders. If you have trouble sleeping at night, some easy swaps might have you snoozing more soundly. Set a bedtime. You might be thinking “duh,” but setting a bedtime and sticking to it is crucial in creating healthy sleep routines. When your body learns to expect a regular time to go to bed, it can slowly wind down over the course of the evening. Leave work out of the bed. It doesn’t matter if its homework or a PowerPoint for an upcoming conference. Your bed should be associated only with sleeping. According to a four-year study done by the CDC, 49.2 million people could link sleep-related difficulties with non-sleep activities. As soon as you bring work into bed, your mind will recognize it as a workplace rather than a rest place. No phones allowed! It’s so easy to lose track of time scrolling through news articles or YouTube videos. Before you know it, hours of precious sleep time have flown by! Charge your digital devices outside the bedroom to avoid temptation. Relax! Do you ever find yourself climbing into bed after a long day and end up staring at the ceiling, unable to sleep? It might be due to excessive activity before bed, triggering your mind to become active again. Take a warm bath or shower, play calming music or read a book. Go caffeine-free. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and its effects can be felt for up to 14 hours. Avoid any caffeinated items at night (and even in the late afternoon). For more information on healthy sleeping habits, visit www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/good-nights-sleep. NutrıNET stickK www.stickk.com As 2016 draws near, find the motivation to help you stick to your next set of resolutions. At stickK.com, you commit to a goal, then set the parameters and personal accountability stakes, such as placing a monetary wager or identifying a personal referee. Invite friends to cheer you on and help you meet your Commitment Contract. Project VoteSmart www.votesmart.org Even with months to go until the presidential election, it’s good to start learning more about the candidates. Skip the rhetoric and visit this site, which aims to be as unbiased as possible. Check out the VoteEasy quiz to see which candidate aligns most with your personal views. Very Best Baking www.verybestbaking.com Find inspiration for your holiday baking from the folks behind Nestlé Toll House, Libby Pumpkin and Carnation. View recipes by occasion, category or skill level to pick the perfect baking project for you. This holiday to-do list, source unknown, was discovered circulating on social media and brought to SN’s attention by SNA Past President Julia Bauscher. What a great reminder of the top priorities to keep in mind this beautiful, busy month! Calendar 15-16 Dec 15 DEC. 2-5 AESA 30th Annual Conference, Association of Educational Service Agencies New Orleans; www.aesa.us DEC. 5-6 Advances and Controversies in Clinical Nutrition, American Society for Nutrition Long Beach, Calif.; www.nutrition.org DEC. 15-16 Technology Conference & Expo 2015, American Society of Association Executives National Harbor, Md.; www.technologyconference.org Jan 16 JAN. 3-7 International Education Conference, The Clute Institute Orlando; www.cluteinstitute.com JAN. 12-14 Potato Expo 2016 Las Vegas; www.potato-expo.com JAN. 19-22 Foodservice Directors Symposium & Chef Summit, The National Association of College & University Food Services New Orleans; www.nacufs.org JAN. 20-23 EcoFarm Conference 2016, Ecological Farming Association Pacific Grove, Calif.; www.eco-farm.org JAN. 24-27 Dairy Forum 2016, International Dairy Foods Association Phoenix; www.idfa.org Feb 16 FEB. 15-18 53rd Annual LDA International Conference, Learning Disabilities Association of America Orlando, Fla.; www.ldaamerica.org FEB. 18-20 2016 Executive Leadership Forum, Association of School Business Officials International Las Vegas; asbointl.org FEB. 20-23 2016 AFFI-CON, American Frozen Food Institute San Diego, Calif.; afficon.affi.org Date BOOK December National Impaired Driving Prevention Month National Pear Month Worldwide Food Service Safety Month Hanukkah (Dec. 6-14) National Hand Washing Awareness Week (Dec. 6-12) Kwanzaa (Dec. 26-Jan. 1) National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (Dec. 7) Poinsettia Day (Dec. 12) Boston Tea Party Anniversary (Dec. 16) First Day of Winter (Dec. 22) Christmas Day (Dec. 25) Pledge of Allegiance Anniversary (Dec. 28) January Financial Wellness Month National Get Organized Month National Skating Month National Soup Month Oatmeal Month Poverty in America Awareness Month Diet Resolution Week (Jan. 1-7) Healthy Weight Week (Jan. 18-22) Betsy Ross’ Birthday (Jan. 1) New Year’s Day (Jan. 1) International Programmers’ Day (Jan. 7) Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday (observed) (Jan. 18) Benjamin Franklin’s Birthday (Jan. 17) Civil Rights Day (Jan. 19) Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Birthday (Jan. 30) February American Heart Month Library Lovers’ Month National Black History Month National Cherry Month Sweet Potato Month National School Counseling Week (Feb. 1-5) National Burn Awareness Week (Feb. 1-7) National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (Feb. 23-Mar. 1) Groundhog Day (Feb. 2) Enter to WIN USDA Awards Grants Earlier this fall, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA plans to award more than $8 million in grants to school foodservice programs to help operators in their efforts to prepare healthy student meals. Of that, $2.6 million will help school nutrition professionals meet regulations required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, while another $5.6 million is allotted for states to expand and enhance foodservice training programs, as well as provide nutrition education to kids. Additionally, 19 states received a 2015 Team Nutrition Training Grant of up to $350,000 to support training that focuses on encouraging healthy eating. Contact your state agency to learn if there is grant money available to your school nutrition program or staff. Crowned Cranberry Teal Carpenter, School Nutrition director at Gloversville (N.Y.) Enlarged School District, was declared the grand-prize winner in the 2015 Cranberry Marketing Committee USA/Mushroom Council Search for the Next Great Cranberry-Mushroom Recipe Contest, which was held at SNA’s 2015 Annual National Conference (ANC) in Salt Lake City. School nutrition professionals from across the country submitted their best school foodservice recipe concept featuring cranberries and mushrooms. Carpenter came out on top for her creative concept of Chicken Stir-fry with Mushrooms, Cranberries and Sugar Peas. Carpenter was awarded $500 and will serve as a consultant as her creation is developed into a tested, creditable school nutrition recipe. Mushroom Madness If you’re crazy about mushrooms, enter the 2016 Mad About Mushrooms Recipe Contest. Submit an original unpublished recipe containing wild or cultivated mushrooms as an ingredient. You can enter any type of dish. The grandprize winner will receive a Port Orford Cedar Plank for cooking and a copy of The Practical Mushroom Encyclopedia. Entries must be emailed to email@example.com by midnight on January 14, 2016. For more information, visit www.madaboutmushrooms.com and look for the “Recipe Contest” link in the left column. Peanut Butter Party If you’re a foodservice operator, educator or student over age 18 who simply loves peanut butter, enter the Peanut Butter Lovers Annual Foodservice Recipe contest. The grand-prize winner will receive $2,500, while four first-place winners in the categories of appetizer/snack, main dish, salad/side dish and dessert each will win $1,000. Each recipe must use at least one-third cup peanuts and/or peanut butter as an ingredient. All entries must be received by December 31. For more information, visit www.peanutbutterlovers.com.
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