By Kelsey Casselbury 2016-04-05 06:35:28
SN has spirit! Yes, we do! SN has spirit—how about you? Join us in getting ready for National School Lunch Week 2016! Throughout the entire school year, the community has been rooting for its sports teams, whether football, soccer or volleyball. Now, it’s time to give a resounding “hip, hip, hooray!” to another important school program: lunch! Start prepping now for National School Lunch Week (NSLW) 2016, which will be observed October 10-14, 2016. This year’s theme, “Show Your Spirit!” challenges students, staff and school officials to come together to show just how much spirit they have for school lunch. GIVE ME AN S SPREAD the word now about National School Lunch Week and this year’s theme, especially with all the members of your cafeteria team. Sure, it’s six months away on the calendar, but in your school nutrition planning calendar, it’s practically around the corner! Don’t wait until the fall to think about how you will promote #NSLW16. The start of the new school year is filled with so many transitions and distractions that will demand your time and attention. Get a head start by sitting down with your teams, brainstorming ideas, making assignments and establishing a timeline. Make sure that timeline includes sharing details with others in the community, especially principals, teachers and advisers of various student groups. Some of these can be great collaborators in developing celebratory activities, such as the pep squad, cheerleaders and team coaches. If you’re a manager or employee who wants to celebrate NSLW in your school for the first time, share with your director and principal some key stats: 80% of members surveyed by SNA in 2013 shared that participating in NSLW increased participation, while 73% stated that the celebratory week helped the program reach its goals. GIVE ME AN P PROMOTE NSLW16 using the resources you will find in SNA’s annual online toolkit, available in early May at www.schoolnutrition.org/nslw. Here are some of the elements that you will find: • A primer on NSLW and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) • Tips for success • Celebration ideas • Menu makeovers • Tips for inviting legislators to lunch • Ways to reach out to the media, as well as to parents in the community • And much more! Also available on the NSLW website are logos and artwork that you can download to use on social media, your print and digital menus, school newsletters and other public outlets to announce to the world that it’s time for school lunch to shine! New for this year is a special Spirit Meter, developed specifically for #NSLW16. Watch the school lunches add up by coloring in the megaphone every time you reach a milestone number of lunches sold. The goal is to get everyone cheering when a new milestone is colored in, and clamoring to buy school meals to watch the spirit meter soar! Download a black-and-white version and then customize it with your school’s name and colors. While you’re online, click on over to the SNA Emporium (emporium.school nutrition.org), which features a wide variety of themed items you can purchase to support your NSLW efforts. What a better way to show the whole staff that you appreciate their effort during this celebratory week than to reward them with a colorful tote bag, T-shirt, apron or water bottle? Pencils, stickers and other small giveaways are terrific treats to distribute to students during NSLW, as well. GIVE ME AN I INVOLVE students (even more than usual!) in your school meals operation by taking advantage of NSLW to gain engagement. Feedback from students about what’s being served is invaluable—after all, how can you drive participation if you’re not sure if the kids even like the food? This is the time to get students really involved in school lunch. Use NSLW as an opportunity to conduct taste-tests with new products or fresh recipes. Some tactics that make a taste test particularly successful include: •allowing students to vote on the item to determine its popularity. You could make the voting public by handing students a marker and asking them to mark “yes” or “no” on a large sheet of poster board, or keep it on the down-low by providing a pen and paper for students to write their thoughts. Make sure to ask the students what they did or didn’t like about the food. If you have available technology, set up stations with a tablet so that students can provide their feedback electronically. • inviting the teachers and administration to taste-test the food at the same time. Seeing adult role models try healthy food often makes a student, especially youngsters, more likely to give it a taste, too. • making sure the samples are large enough that the student can really try it out, such as a 3-oz. beverage versus a 1-oz. swallow or half of a granola bar rather than just one bite. • planing carefully so that you have enough samples for everyone who wants to try it. One word of caution: If you offer a taste-test outside of the cafeteria, make sure that your preparation and serving steps continue to meet HACCP food safety protocols. For other activities, latch onto the “Spirit” theme of NSLW and turn your cafeteria into a full-fledged school lunch pep rally! Play rally music, and invite the pep squad/cheerleaders (whether your own school’s or the local high school’s) to create a special school lunch cheer (L-U-N-C-HE-S! That is how you spell success! Lunches!) You might also promote a special spirit day in which all students are invited to wear the jerseys, T-shirts, hats or other gear that celebrates their favorite sports team. Invite college or professional athletes (or even those on the high school team!) to eat lunch with the younger students or act as guest servers for the day. GIVE ME AN R RECOGNIZE the importance that a healthy school lunch has on a child’s life, both in and out of school. Now isn’t the time to lose sight of why you do what you do! Research substantiates the wealth of benefits that meals served as part of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) bestow upon participating students—for example, those who eat school lunch have, on average, superior nutrition intake to those who don’t. Another study, with data taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, determined that NSLP participation reduced the prevalence of food insecurity by 3.8%, poor general health by 29% and the rate of obesity by 17% in students who ate it. Additionally, the school meals operation allows parents who might not have the time or budget to send their child to school with a nutrient-packed lunch the confidence in knowing their children can eat a healthful meal at the lowest possible price. And, of course, research shows a well-fed child does better in classes, has fewer absences and is less likely to misbehave. Of course, you might already know this information—what do you do to ensure that everyone else knows it? Some effective options: Send a letter home to parents (or include information in a school newsletter) that explains the importance of their child participating in school lunch, particularly during NSLW. If your community prefers digital information, post a fact a day on the department’s social media accounts and create a special NSLW page on the school’s website. GIVE ME AN ANOTHER I INVITE community leaders, parents and the media to experience school lunch! The first step to quelling misconceptions about school meals is to allow the naysayers the opportunity to experience your fresh, nutritious and tasty offerings firsthand. This year’s official “National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day,” sponsored by Kiwi magazine, is scheduled for October 12, 2016. Although parents may be welcome to join children at lunchtime any day of the year, making a special outreach effort during NSLW is an ideal occasion for school nutrition professionals and school administrators to open a face-to-face line of communication. Many parents simply don’t realize how much school meals have changed since they were in school. This is also the perfect time of year to invite the media into the lunchroom, as area newspapers and TV news programs are often looking for a feel-good story relating to children—and NSLW celebrations fit that bill perfectly! In fact, you might even find that media outlets are reaching out to you for an interview request. If the idea of appearing on camera makes you shake with fear, don’t worry— SNA has your back. Visit www.schoolnutrition.org/marketingcomm/media-outreach for an array of information on working successfully with the media (including a one-hour “Media 101” webinar). You can open minds and eyes of others in the community by asking them to enjoy a complimentary lunch this week. Or encourage special guests to act as “celebrity” servers. GIVE ME AN T TELL SNA all about your celebrations! Naturally, we want to hear all about how you intend to cheer on school lunch during NSLW—and then how things turn out! Before the event, visit www.schoolnutrition.org/nslw and click on “Sweepstakes” for details on how to win a special NSLW-themed prize. After you celebrate, tell us how it went! Did your students and staff get into the spirit? You might see your school in the pages of School Nutrition—but you have to submit photos and your story first! Send high-resolution images and a short summary of your festivities to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to include your name and title, the names of anyone appearing in the pictures, the school(s)/districts that celebrate and the city and state. WHAT DOES IT SPELL? Show your SPIRIT for National School Lunch Week 2016! You have the tools and resources, the creative ideas and the pep to celebrate this festive annual event. Don’t lose momentum or enthusiasm. Two-four-six-eight, don’t you think school lunch is great?! Let’s hear a hip-hip-hooray for #NSLW16! Kelsey Casselbury is the managing editor of School Nutrition.
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.
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