In some parts of the country the new school year has begun, but in other communities, families are beach-bound this month, getting in one last vacation! Since SN team members are among this latter group (counting the days), we loved this simple but fun approach to summer sandwiches from the catering team at El Monte City (Calif.) Unified School District. Clip this and save it for next summer’s meal plans—or if you schedule a mid-winter cafeteria beach party! AN IDEA WORTH STEALING PEDAL POWER SN loves seeing the beginnings of the next trend. Oh sure, smoothie popularity has been around for a while, with ongoing interest in all kinds of crazy ingredient mash-ups. But supplying the power to the blender? Now that’s a new twist! We’ve seen multiple news pieces featuring school nutrition departments using a so-called “blender bike” as an eye-catching, conversation-starting exercise that combines nutrition and physical activity in a terrific wellness education promotion. SN reached out to a few of those districts. This month, Cypress-Fairbanks (Texas) Independent School District. Emmy Durand, Cy-Fair Nutrition Services nutrition education coordinator, gives us all the details about their program. Using budget money and their educational discount, Nutrition Services bought two Fender Blender Pro bikes from Rock the Bike, aiming to use the unusual contraptions in nutrition education outreach. “We thought it would be a fun and interactive way to teach children about energy balance and to promote our program.” Each stationary bike cost $1,800. The operation purchased four 48 fl. oz. pitchers from BlendTec. Individual schools in the district can request these bikes—blenders attached—for promotions, events and even an inservice training. The smoothie bike brigade has also visited sites with school gardens, allowing students to pick their smoothie ingredients—particularly spinach—before hopping on the bike. You heard that right—there is hidden spinach in every smoothie. “That is always a big surprise for the kids,” Durand admits, “But everyone loves them.” The team also brings various fruits to mix in. Finely blending each 2-oz. smoothie portion takes about 90 seconds of vigorous pedaling, Durand reveals, as it takes a lot of energy to power the blender. The kids burn about 30 calories per 2 minutes of riding. With both exercise and healthy ingredients combined into a single program, nutrition is as easy as, well, riding a bike! We don’t know anyone working for a food promotion board who is quite so dedicated to his job as “Dr. Potato,” aka Don Odiorne, vice president-foodservice, Idaho Potato Commission. SN admires his deep commitment to all things potato, evidenced by this National Fry Day t-shirt. (All kidding aside, Odiorne is equally passionate about physical activity; SN has it on good authority that he racks up 100,000+ Fitbit steps every week!) Put a (Compostable) Spork in It! SN loves to hear about cafeteria/classroom collaborations! In Windham, Maine, fifth-graders at Manchester School received grant money to start a recycling and composting program and serve as champions for change. The youngsters “were troubled by our use of a plastic spork kit that had to go into the regular trash every day, along with the plastic cellophane wrapper, etc.,” recounts Jeanne Reilly, DTR, SNS, director of school nutrition. The students invited her to their class to discuss their concerns and Reilly encouraged them to research acceptable, reasonably priced alternatives and she would consider giving them a try. The students contacted several vendors and found a compostable spork (not a kit) that was comparable in price. They also addressed issues related to transitioning from a kit to a single utensil, determining the most sanitary and safe way to dispense the spork and a napkin. “They made a lovely presentation and created an infographic poster with all of their research findings and data,” reports Reilly. She agreed to order three cases of the sporks and try them out before the end of the year. The verdict? The spork project as a “big success” and the students are excited by the pay-off of their hard work. “Our plan is to continue to purchase these as long as the price point is fairly comparable and the supply is good,” says Reilly. Some people see religious figures or celebrities in the abstract patterns of various food items. SN readers see lunch ladies! This dairy-based artwork, delivered to the dish room window, brightened an otherwise frustrating day for Hunt Elementary School Manager Dawnel Bilderback, at Springdale (Ark.) Public Schools. She reports that it was a timely and welcome reminder of why she loves her job. (And it’s another reason why we love our jobs, too!) Reporting for Duty! Kudos to the Child Nutrition team at Ritenour School District in St. Louis, Mo., for their creative efforts to reinforce messages that elevate the way school cafeteria teams are viewed in their communities. This new-employee recruitment promotion says it all!
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.
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