Friday, March 20, 2015

School Meals are Community Meals

At a recent community event, we hosted a free sampling of foods and beverages.  Students, parents, staff, community members, school board and administration attended to take a look, and have a taste, of current and potential school menu items.  Coverage in the local paper about Food Festival 2015 helped share our story. 

School meals really are community meals.  Parents want to know what choices their students have.  School leadership and community members want to know resources are being used wisely.  Students want to see what is new and exciting.  Buy-in from all these stakeholders is essential to success.

We received over 200 taste test forms, some with valuable written comments.  Some menu items will move forward and work their way on to the menu next school year.  Others, will be tweaked and retested.  Some will go the way of plate waste studies.

Key take-aways:
  • Leverage an existing school event, where parents and community members are already attending for some other reason.
  • Free food always brings a crowd.
  • Add some nutrition education to the mix, with product cards highlighting the nutritional merits of each item.
  • Provide recipes for items made from scratch, so families can try it at home.
  • Have plenty of staff on hand to answer questions.
Create excitement in your community about the school meal program.  Help members understand regulatory, food cost and other challenges.  Show adults how much things have changed since they were in school. 

Best comment card response:  "It makes me want to go back to school!"

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