HR CORNER <b>Keeping the Peace</b> No one likes to deal with conflict, whether it is with your boss, a coworker, a vendor, your teenager or your best friend! But proactively managing conflict can have positive results. Acting promptly keeps disputes from spreading, reduces stress, increases productivity and improves teamwork. Successful strategies for managing conflict are based on the same core principles, regardless of the source of the discord. ■ Take the conversation to a private, quiet place. ■ Admit responsibility for what might be your role in the conflict. ■ Speak calmly, keep emotion out of the conversation and avoid hostile body language. ■ Focus on the issue and avoid personal attacks. ■ Listen carefully to the other person. Active listening is hard work. Ask questions for clarification, paraphrase and summarize what you are hearing. ■ Acknowledge the other person’s feelings and issues without agreeing: “I understand that you feel this way….” ■ Leave the past in the past—don’t dredge up old history. ■ Seek common ground and then look for ways to compromise in other areas. ■ Work together to agree on clear and specific solutions, then follow up to make it happen. Life is never completely free of conflict, but acting promptly to resolve it with these strategies can make most episodes more manageable. And if you keep a truly open mind, they might even produce some surprising positive results! TOOLS OF THE TRADE <b>Establishing Equipment Excellence</b> What’s most important to you when it comes to kitchen equipment and the equipment procurement process? School nutrition operators shared their thoughts on this topic in a roundtable discussion with research and consulting firm Y-Pulse, LLC. Participants cited a desire for equipment that is both versatile for a variety of uses and that adds cost efficiency to their programs. Operators explained that when handling equipment purchases, they seek to do business with manufacturer equipment representatives who have a detailed understanding of school nutrition operations, are honest and can answer how the equipment will serve their needs. Another top priority was a vendor who will take the time to provide in-depth training and service after the sale; indeed, they reported that proactive support from manufacturers eliminates the underuse of sophisticated equipment. Operators identified the first 18 months as an important period in building and establishing good habits in using new equipment, determining whom they should call for specific needs with the equipment and learning how to resolve installation- and performance-related issues. Participants also expressed a desire for more assistance in extending their existing platforms without remodeling or remaking their spaces and indicated an interest in access to advanced specialty equipment. For more information about Y-Pulse and its research, visit www.ypulse.org. FARM-TO-SCHOOL <b>A Different Kind of Hero</b> In Rhode Island and Massachusetts, trading cards aren’t just limited to photos and facts about baseball players and other sports heroes! Kids in these states can collect cards featuring a different kind of hero: the farmers who help produce the food that they eat as part of their school meals. The staff of Rhode Island-based Kids First wanted their communities to better understand the valuable role that farmers play in the densely populated state. So, they brainstormed ways to provide fresh website content that would connect students and other community members to the farmers who grow their food. Initially, the plan was to feature a different farmer on the website each month; this led to the trading card idea. Kids First distributes the trading cards (which feature Rhode Island-based growers who participate in the state’s farm-to-school program) to students in cafeterias and classrooms during nutrition education workshops and demonstrations and when Rhode Island farmers’ foods are included as part of a particular school menu. The cards highlight facts about the farmers, the foods they grow and the equipment they use. They have been a bona fide hit with students, reports Dorothy Brayley, Kids First executive director. “The students love the cards and clamor for more. They compare their cards to their friends’ [cards] in an almost competitive way and look forward to the opportunity to acquire more cards,” she reports, adding that “teachers, parents and the farmers themselves love the cards, too!” Kids First’s efforts have inspired at least one other state. The Massachusetts Farm to School Project also has begun producing trading cards for students. As in Rhode Island, the cards are popular among all age groups, says Myrna Greenfield, communications coordinator for the Massachusetts Farm to School Project. Both states have made their cards available for free online download (www.kidsfi rstri.org/newfarm.htm and www.mass.gov/agr/markets/Farm_to_school/ docs/trading-cards.pdf). Brayley encourages school nutrition operators to be creative in their distribution of the cards. For example, “The cards can be a reward for tasting some new fruit or vegetable, opting for a vegetable or piece of fresh fruit instead of chips or eating a rainbow of fresh produce,” she suggests. SOCIAL MEDIA <b>Who’s That Girl?</b> It’s no surprise that teenagers gravitate toward social media websites as a way to both maintain current friendships and make new ones, but according to research from the Girl Scout Research Institute, nearly 74% of girls responded that most girls use social networking sites to make themselves “cooler than they really are.” In the process, they often downplay several positive characteristics they possess, such as their intelligence, kindness and efforts to be a good influence, found the nationwide survey, which included more than 1,000 girls ages 14-17. The survey, <i>Who’s That Girl? Image and Social Media,</i> found that 91% of girls use Facebook regularly; 38% use Twitter regularly and 28% use MySpace regularly. Still, the vast majority of respondents indicated that they <i>prefer</i> face-to-face communication. In fact, 92% answered that they would give up all of their social networking friends if it meant keeping their best friend. Forty-one percent of respondents indicated that they try to make themselves appear cool in their online profiles. The most frequent words girls used to describe solely how they portray themselves on their online profiles are fun (54%), funny (52%) and social (48%). But in person, girls say they come across as smart (82%), fun (82%), funny (80%), kind (76%), a good influence (59%), outgoing (55%), cool (55%) and social/confident (51% each). The survey also revealed that while girls generally have good intentions when it comes to safe social networking behavior, they don’t always act on them. Eighty-five percent of girls have talked with their parents about safe social networking, yet 50% conceded that they are not always as careful as they should be. For example, the average girl has 351 online friends, but 54% of girls are online “friends” with someone they have not met in person. Girls’ emotional safety and risk can be at risk online, as well. Nearly 70% of girls have had a negative experience on a social networking site, such as having someone gossip about them or being bullied. However, the benefits of social networking seem to outweigh the negatives for girls, as more than half agree that social networks help them feel closer and more connected to their friends, and about the same percentage have gotten involved in a cause they care about through a social network. The survey results also include tips for parents to ensure that their children are networking in a safe and age-appropriate manner. For more on this survey, visit http://tinyurl.com/22m4t4m. WHOLE GRAINS <b>If You Serve It, Will They Eat?</b> Worried about how to get the students in your school to accept items made with whole grains? You might be worrying needlessly. In ConAgra’s <i>2011 Consumer Insights Survey,</i> 20% of mothers indicated that they would pay more for whole grains on a kids’ menu when dining out. But what about <i>kids</i>— would they eat healthy items at a restaurant or choose whole-grain options at school? The mothers responding to the survey generally affirmed a belief that their children would not hesitate to order whole-grain menu items. And when kids themselves tried some whole-grain products in a taste test, 7 out of 10 said that they would order the products at a restaurant, while 8 out of 10 noted that they would choose them at school. When taste-testing regular macaroni and cheese against a macaroni and cheese made with whole-grain pasta, a panel of elementary school students responded that they could not detect significant taste differences between the versions. RESEARCH <b>Junkville, USA?</b> As school nutrition professionals, you know that it’s important for students to eat nutritious meals not only at school, but at home and when dining out, as well. However, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many communities lack venues for healthy foods. The <i>2011 Children’s Food Environment State Indicator Report</i> measured the proportion of stores that sell healthy foods to those that primarily feature less-healthy items, such as fastfood restaurants and convenience stores. The report found that 32 states and the District of Columbia scored at or below the national average. The report also examined the advertising of less-healthy foods in schools. Forty-nine percent of middle and high schools allowed less-healthy foods like candy, soft drinks and fastfood restaurants to be advertised on school grounds. The CDC urged communities, child care facilities and schools to play a stronger role in providing children with access to healthy food. To view more findings from the CDC report, visit www.cdc.gov/obesity/resources/reports.html. <b>NO GERMS!</b> HEALTHY SCHOOLS <b>Create a Clean Scene</b> Despite the custodial staff’s efforts to keep a school building as clean as possible, the concentration of so many students in one place can lead to the presence of germs that lead to outbreaks of colds and other illnesses among kids, teachers and other school staff. Peter Sheldon, vice president of operations for Coverall Health-Based Cleaning System®, identifies the five germiest places in schools: water fountains, pencil sharpeners, computer keyboards and mice, desktops and bathrooms. Specifically, Sheldon notes, public drinking fountains can harbor as many as 2.7 million bacteria per square inch on the spigot, and the average desk has 100 times more bacteria than most kitchen tables and 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet! He recommends that schools use a nightly health-focused, hygienic cleaning program incorporating hospital-grade disinfectants. Additionally, students and school staff should be provided with disinfectant disposable wipes to periodically wipe down high-touch points throughout the day, including tools and other equipment used in school kitchens and cafeterias. RESEARCH <b>Hidden Health</b> Researchers who used “stealth vegetables” as ingredients in certain dishes found that the hidden veggies provided can offer added dietary benefits. As described in an <i>American Journal of Clinical Nutrition</i> article, the Pennsylvania State University researchers served carrot bread for breakfast, macaroni and cheese for lunch and chicken and rice for dinner to male and female adults participating in the study. Participants were not informed in cases when certain puréed vegetables, such as cauliflower, squash or carrots, were added to the dishes. Participants ate about the same amount of each entrée, regardless of the amount of vegetables it contained. The subjects’ calorie intake dropped by as much as 360 calories a day when the entrées contained 25% of the vegetable purée. (By removing 360 calories every day from his or diet, a person could lose one pound of body fat in about 10 days.) In addition, their vegetable intake rose by up to two servings per day, a substantial improvement over the number of vegetable servings consumed by many Americans, say researchers. To read all the findings featured in the journal article, visit http://tinyurl.com/4px37vm. <b>NASA’s Space Place</b> <b>http://spaceplace.nasa.gov</b> NASA’s kids’ site offers interactive games and fun facts about space science and technology, as well as ideas for activities that kids can do with ordinary materials, such as crafting a topographic map, building a moon habitat or making star cookies or El Niño pudding. In addition, the information on the site is useful for adults seeking to learn more about space in anticipation of kids’ questions. The site also is offered in Spanish. <b>Blueberry Kitchen</b> <b>www.ciaprochef.com/blueberries</b> New blueberry-related education materials available to foodservice professionals include blueberry history, nutrition and instructional recipe videos for breakfast dishes, salads, entrées and more. The site also links to the website for the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, which offers additional blueberry information and a link to sign up for Blue Plate Special, a quarterly e-newsletter for foodservice professionals. <b>Gastrokid</b> <b>www.gastrokid.com</b> In these archives of a recipe blog from two fathers, you will find recipe tips and ideas for family meals, product reviews and explorations of the history of various food products, such as nutmeg and potatoes. The authors have gone on to launch <i>The Gastrokids</i> (http://thegastrokids.com) to engage children in the adventures of four “time-traveling food heroes.” <b>FAME-Worthy</b> Julia Bauscher, SNS, has been named the 2012 Golden School Foodservice Director of the Year in the annual FAME (Foodservice Achievement Management Excellence) awards competition. The Golden School Foodservice Director demonstrates outstanding achievement in leadership, spirit/dedication, innovation, career awards, management systems, humanitarianism/community involvement and bettering the lives of students. Five other school nutrition professionals were recognized by the FAME selection panel that included winners of the 2011 competition, as well as the editor of School Nutrition magazine and other trade publications, plus SNA President Helen Phillips, SNS. The 2012 FAME Awards are made possible with the generous support of Basic American Foods, Schwan’s Food Service, Inc., and Tyson Foods, Inc. <b>Linda Stoll, MPH, SNS,</b> executive director of food services, <b>Jefferson County (Colo.) School District,</b> was named as winner of the Silver Leadership Award. The Silver Spirit Award went to <b>Craig Weidel, SNS,</b> area supervisor, <b>Mesa (Ariz.) Public Schools. Jane Johnson,</b> school nutrition director at <b>Crane School District No. 13, Yuma, Ariz.,</b> received this year’s Silver Special Achievement Award, and <b>Jessica Shelly, RS, REHS, MBA,</b> foodservices director for <b>Cincinnati (Ohio) Public Schools,</b> was named as winner of the Silver Rising Star Award. Finally, <b>Dayle Hayes, MS, RD,</b> president of <b>Nutrition for the Future</b> in Billings, Mont., was named Silver Friend of Child Nutrition. In addition, the second honoree of the Gertrude Applebaum Lifetime Achievement Award, selected exclusively by the FAME sponsors, is <b>Shirley R. Watkins,</b> president of <b>SR Watkins & Associates, LLC,</b> in Silver Spring, Md. Watkins is a past president of SNA and a former undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The awards will be presented at SNA’s Child Nutrition Industry Conference in Orlando this month. <b>Safety Success</b> NSF International, an independent global organization that certifies products and writes public health standards for food, water and consumer goods, announces its call for nominations for the 2012 Food Safety Leadership Awards Program. The program recognizes individuals that demonstrate outstanding food safety leadership. Nominations, which will be evaluated based on creativity, innovation, design, contribution to the advancement of food safety and overall quality of contributions made, must be submitted by <b>February 3, 2012.</b> Entries may be mailed to Mary Ellen Krueger, NSF International, 789 N. Dixboro Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48105. For more details or to enter online, visit www.nsf.org/business/newsroom/fs_awards.asp. <b>Down to a Science</b> Round up the creative student artists you know and invite them to enter the Cooking With Science Bag Design Contest, sponsored by Mission Nutrition, the school foodservice promotions program of Mello Smello. Entries must be hand-drawn and -colored and depict the “Cooking With Science” theme. Designs should showcase a favorite healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner that includes the five main food groups identified in the U.S. Department of Agriculture MyPlate guidance, as well as scientific tools used to prepare the meal. The contest winner’s art will be featured on a Mello Smello Super Sack®. The winner also will receive a bicycle and helmet. Entries should be mailed to Mello Smello, Attn: Bag Contest, 6010 Earle Brown Dr., Minneapolis, MN 55430. One entry per child; drawings must be completed by the child without assistance. Children aged 18 or younger can participate. The deadline to enter is <b>February 16, 2012.</b> For more information and for an entry form and art template, visit http://tinyurl.com/bpq6xgs. <b>Kids in the Kitchen</b> The Healthy Kids Challenge announces the 10th annual Stirring Up Health™ Recipe Contest. In partnership with Johnson & Wales University and the Home Baking Association, the Healthy Kids Challenge encourages 7th- and 8th-graders to develop or modify an existing recipe to make it healthier, using MyPlate guidelines. Recipes must be lower in fat, sugar and salt compared to a conventional recipe and have a high percentage of their ingredients from one selected MyPlate food group category. A Johnson & Wales University chef will prepare the winning entries at events held at the winners’ schools. For more information and to enter, visit www.healthykid schallenge.com. The deadline for submissions is <b>March 2, 2012.</b> <b>Fresh and Healthy</b> Congratulations to the winners of the 2011 Golden Carrot Awards, sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. The awards recognize school nutrition programs that encourage kids to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and that offer an assortment of vegetarian, lowfat, whole-grain and nondairy options. The grand prize went to <b>Los Angeles Unified School District,</b> whose new school menus this year feature a number of plant-based menu options. The district also initiated a social awareness campaign that links healthy eating to graduation. Runners-up included <b>Greenville (S.C.) County Schools.</b> To read more about the winners and the award program, visit www.healthyschoollunches.org/carrot/11 winners.cfm. <b>Slice of Perfection</b> Is your pie recipe award-winning? Find out by entering it in Taste of Home’s “Perfect Pies” recipe contest. Pies with crusts of all kinds, from pastry to cookie crumb or graham cracker, are welcome. One grand-prize winner will receive $500 and a Pie Contest in a Box toolkit, while one second-place winner will receive $300 and a copy of the toolkit and one third-place winner will receive $200 and a copy of the toolkit. Runners-up will receive a subscription to Country Woman magazine. The deadline for submission is <b>February 1, 2012.</b> Entries may be mailed to Perfect Pies, Diane Werner, Food Director, 5400 S. 60th St., Greendale, WI 53129. For more details or to enter online, visit www.tasteofhome.com/Contests/Recipe-Contests/Perfect-Pies.
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