How to Implement (and maintain) the Alternative Menu
Thank you to all who could be on our Alternative Menu Best Practices call today! Thanks to Stacey B Ornstein for taking notes and to Wellness in the Schools Founder Nancy Easton for making time to join us!
NYC Healthy Food Alliance conference call
ALTERNATIVE MENU BEST PRACTICES
Notes by Stacey Ornstein (sorry, was going quick and tried to organize as everyone spoke)
Messaging is important!
Be positive. All parents want what is best for their children.
Get parents on board, speak with the PTA
(Eventually) Bring up at PTA mtg as “opportunity” to change food menu
How to: Hand out Standard and Alt Menu with titles blinded out (blind vote) and ask parents to pick a menu they prefer their students eat.
Give parents tastings (at all school or parent events)
Form a Wellness Council (or join one) get a team together to help
Check to see if your school has one here.
Get principal on board
Meet with/ get Food Service Manager (Office of School Food Nutirtion Manager) on board. Find yours here.
Be an ally, it’s not a fight
Get a salad bar
Work with staff to vary it
Ensure: 2 different lettuces, minimum 3 vegetables, homemade salad dressings, etc
Get programs in the schools that promote healthy cooking and eating (some free/some $)
Allergic to Salad
Bubble Foundation (I think they’ve now combined with Edible Schoolyard)
Coalition for Healthy School Food
Garden to Cafe program
Spoons Across America
Get parents to help promote:
Tastings of new items (while kids are waiting in line) (WITS can do day before)
Connect/ask Food Service Manager. Approach as concerned about participation, we’d love to help promote, any particular items we can help promote through tastings we (parents) can hand out.
Give stickers to kids that are ‘super eaters’/’adventurous eaters’ and try it
Send home recipes asking parents to talk about menu items, make it a game (see if child can pick 2 or 3 new items to try)
Jenny U. (parent at co-located Neighborhood School): Backpacking home recipes encourage parents to talk to kids about the menu options.
See Veggie Tacos and Veggie Chilli recipes linked here. https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1eb_wZZLgrZjdqkQVHEhdIcctx7w3se4z
Generally increase interest/participation in better health
Monthly fruit/vegetable tastings (parent-led), get foods donated
Nancy Easton (Wellness in the Schools): SchoolFood in general is looking to combine menus (scratch cook (Alternative) with standard). Big city, can take years, but this is why there is a lot of overlap now and will continue.
Tastings are very powerful (get parents, school aids, administration, etc to do)
Cafeteria has tasting cups
Kitchen likes tastings ultimately increases participation
Ask the School Food Manager to help set up tastings (concerned about participation, we’d love to help promote, any particular items to promote)
Cooking classes promoting healthy eating
Best way to ask for alternative menu
First place to go is your wellness council/committee on the PTA
Shared space schools have to all make the decision together
Have meeting with your school food manager and request it
Helpful to have the principal in favor of it
Stress how you will help promote it so that you can keep participation up (by doing tastings, sending home backpack flyers, and messaging families)
Make sure you have a salad bar, that’s a good first step
If you have questions please email me through the website or at email@example.com.