Best Practices

Learn how Food Service Directors around the State engage their students in healthy eating practices.

AVON     FARMINGTON     MERIDEN     NEW MILFORD     NEWTOWN     OLD SAYBROOK     PUTNAM     REDDING     RIDGEFIELD     WESTPORT     WOLCOTT

Avon High School

Maggie Dreher, Director of Nutrition Services

BEST PRACTICE:

 

We are serving several fresh soups that include a variety of fresh vegetables such as minestrone, chicken vegetable and chicken tortilla soup.

Avon Middle School

Maggie Dreher, Director of Nutrition Services

BEST PRACTICE:

 

We are using fresh fruit to prepare healthy snacks and desserts such as fresh apple, pear and peach crisps

Avon

Pine Grove

Maggie Dreher / Director of Nutrition Services

BEST PRACTICE:

 

We are providing a rainbow tray of fresh fruits and vegetables daily for our students to try.

Avon

Roaring Brook

Maggie Dreher / Director of Nutrition Services

BEST PRACTICE:

 

We are a small very old school and we are providing a daily assortment of fresh fruit and vegetables. We are adding pears and apples to our salads also.


Farmington Public Schools

Aliza Stern, RD, Resident Dietitian

BEST PRACTICE:

 

One of the best practices we use in our district to get students excited about eating fruits and vegetables is highlighting a "food focus" every month. We do different taste testings with the students based on the fruits and vegetables we want to highlight. We feel that the exposure to these new foods makes fruits and vegetables more exciting for students and makes them more apt to try them. We often create new recipes in order to make the food of the month more kid friendly. We also include fun facts and take home recipes. Attached you will find some pictures of tastings we have done during the 2013-2014 school year.


Meriden Public Schools

Hanover Elementary School

Shirley Arabasz / Cafeteria manager

BEST PRACTICE:

 

At Hanover Elementary School, we have been successful at implementing our Go, Slow, Whoa! initiative to teach our students how to make healthy food choices.

Through a grant that was awarded to Meriden Public Schools by the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE), we have been using a color-coded rating system that categorized foods as either green ('Go' foods to eat more often), yellow ('Slow' foods to eat occasionally), or red ('Whoa!' foods to eat rarely). The Go, Slow, Whoa! program rates foods based on their nutritional value (fat, sugar, sodium, calories, vitamins/minerals, etc).

We promoted the program at our Wellness Fair by creating folders containing

letters to parents about the Go, Slow, Whoa! program in addition to other materials on healthy eating. Fruits and vegetables are always promoted and highlighted as 'Go'

foods which we encourage our kids to eat most often. We offer a rainbow tray of fruit at lunch daily to show the students how much variety there can be when making

healthy choices and always include fresh CT Grown produce when available. We encourage our cafeteria staff to promote double servings of vegetables with a sign printed above the vegetable of the day. As a Healthy Food Certified school, we make sure that all the food we serve meets and many times exceeds USDA standards.

Our Go, Slow, Whoa! program can be found at our website:

Go to Website Here

Meriden Public Schools

Benjamin Franklin Elementary School

Kathy Caponigro / Cafeteria manager

BEST PRACTICE:

 

Meriden Public Schools has been awarded a grant from the Connecticut Department of Education (CSDE) to develop and implement a new school nutrition rating system. As part  of this grant, our school is able to promote healthy eating and making good choices based on a color coded spotlight program. T his program uses digital signage as well as colorful menus and our department's website to continually promote all healthy eating at both breakfast and lunch. Each of the items listed on the menus are colored with either green (GO foods) to eat often, yellow (SLOW foods) to eat

occasionally, and red (WHOA foods) to eat rarely. An explanation of the colors is explained on the menu to help parents understand what options are being offered to their kids at school. A variety of fresh produce is offered throughout the week and CT Grown produce is always used when possible. T his program allows us to provide students with healthy choices as well reminding them to take at least one fruit or vegetable with their meal. Signs are posted on serving line next to the vegetables of the day to encourage kids to ask for Double Vegetables. Our school is also Healthy Food Certified which ensures that all of our school food meets and often exceeds USDA standards for healthy school meals.

Meriden Public Schools

Nathan Hale Elementary School

Lisa Antico /Cafeteria Manager

BEST PRACTICE:

 

As part of a school district that is Healthy Food Certified, our school offers a utritious array of fruits and vegetables in all of our school nutrition programs. A rainbow fruit tray is always offered daily with a minimum variety of two fresh and two canned fruit options for students to choose from. Our school district also partners with the University of Connecticut Dietetics Program to work with a dietetics student to implement nutrition education into the classrooms and in afterschool programming. Additionally, we were the first school in our district to implement "The Elle Project"

which is based on the Start with Half a Cup initiative to promote vegetable consumption among our students in school and at home. Our students were encouraged to try a variety of new vegetables. We challenged each classroom

to try the most vegetables during a one month period. The winning classroom received a stuffed Elle the dog in addition to two veggie-filled platters arranged to look like the faces of Elmo and Oscar the Grouch. We also gave each child a vegetable sticker to wear for the rest of the day. To supplement our participation in "The Ellie Project," we had our dietetic intern provide a nutrition lesson to the winning class that discussed the importance of eating at least a half a cup of vegetables every day to live healthy lives.

Nathan Hale Letter to Parents re Ellie Presentation

Wowowo.docx


New Milford 

New Milford High School

Sandra Sullivan / Food Service Director

BEST PRACTICE:

 

The serving line at the high school is a food court style. Students from all the stations can help themselves at the fruit and vegetable bar. There are always 5 fruits to choose

from which are a combination of fresh and canned. There are also 5 vegetables to choose from, the choices are a red/orange, starchy, green other and a legume choice.

Students do have to take 1/2 a cup so giving them a choice of 10 increases the chance of them taking something they like. What we are finding is that students are now taking

more than 1/2 a cup.

New Milford

Hill and Plain School

Sandra Sullivan  / Food Service Director

BEST PRACTICE:

 

A vegetable subgroup tray is offered daily on the lunch line. It has 5 choices.The tray will contain a dark green, a red orange, a legume, a starchy and a vegetable from the other

group. All vegetables are portioned in 1/2 cups. Students may take 2 if the wish. Along with the vegetables there is a fruit tray which will have 2-3 choices of fresh fruit and 2-3

choices of canned fruit. Two days a week fruit juice is offered. Having at least a choice of 10 fruits and vegetables to pick from daily increases the chance of the student finding something they will like and eat or to try something new.


Newtown, CT

Reed Intermediate School

Jill Patterson / Resident Dietitian

BEST PRACTICE:

 

We implement suggestive selling. For example, as students come through the pizza station, Brenda (cook and server) will say, “would you like to try my broccoli or green beans today?” We offer hot cooked vegetables at all of the hot food stations and associates implement this suggestive selling technique. In addition, Brenda will offer students who resist getting vegetables a sample of the vegetable to get them to try it,

and down the road, some of them are more apt to try the full ½ cup portion.

We conduct cafeteria promotions to encourage students to take fruits and vegetables. Some of our themes have included: carrot taste testing, blueberry promotion and salad

explosion promotion.


Old Saybrook

Old Saybrook High School

Maureen Nuzzo'Director of Food Services

BEST PRACTICES

 

At Breakfast we cut assorted fruit for our self-serve Yogurt Parfait, Oatmeal and Cereal Bars. At these stations students can customize their breakfast. Students start with their meat alternate and/or grain base and complete their meal by adding an assortment of fresh, frozen, canned and dry fruit toppings. Students enjoy creating their own "meal" and we find they take more then the required 1/2 cup of fruit to claim a reimbursable meal. Students enjoy sharing their creations with their friends which usually entices them to purchase a breakfast. This has been a healthy and great way to start their day.

We also offer a great selection of fresh cut fruit on the breakfast line for students to choose with meal options other than the Yogurt Parfait Bar, Cereal Bar and Oatmeal Bar. Large pink and white grapefruit are cut in half and "sectioned" by hand by or staff for students to enjoy with their spoon. The demand has been so great our staff is often not able to keep up with it. Grapefruit has become so popular, we serve it at lunch too!

We like to cut fresh fruit slices and bag for students to take with their meals. We find when you cut the fruit students are more likely to take it and EAT it! We often have students flash us their Fruit "smile" with the orange or grapefruit wedge over their teeth which always brings a laugh to the cafe!

Orange Smiles

Yogurt Parfait Bar

Fritattin Tortilla

Grapefruit Berry Slide

Old Saybrook

St. John School

Maureen Nuzzo, Director of Food Services

BEST PRACTICES

 

St John School has a Salad Bar meal available to all students. Students can fill their "Boat" with a great selection of fruit and vegetables and then choose their meat/meat alternate to complete their meal. By offering an assortment of fresh, colorful and local CT Grown produce, students have become so excited and participation in the Salad Bar Meal has continued to increase.

Old Saybrook

Old Saybrook Middle School

Maureen Nuzzo, Director of Food Services

BEST PRACTICES

 

At Old Saybrook Middle School, we offer traditional Breakfast in the Cafeteria and Breakfast in the Classroom. Our Manager hand cuts fresh fruit for an average of 100 breakfast in the class room meals each day. He bags them and “bundles” them with their other components and delivers them to each class. Students love the cut up fruit, especially since so many wear braces and find it difficult to bite into the fruit.

We garnish our lunch plates with fresh fruit and vegetable slices. This best practice brightens up the plate and gets a serving of fruit and/or vegetable right on the plate for students to enjoy and, we find EAT!

We like to prepare "chopped" and composed salads so students can taste different combinations of vegetables together. Butternut squash and white bean and our Chopped veggie salad are their favorites!

Waldorf Apple Wedges

Chicken Wrap LoMein

Butternut & White bean


Putnam Public Schools

Putnam Elementary School

 

This is our first year partnering with Food Corps, an organization that helps connect kids to healthy foods through nutrition education, development of school gardens, and connections with local farms to enhance farm to school participation. Presently, our Food Corps member conducts monthly taste tests in our elementary cafeteria with the students known as "Try this Tuesdays". The emphasis is on sampling fresh fruits, vegetables, and legumes that we offer on our "fresh garden bar" or may be part of our school meal that month. T his enables the children to sample new items, take a recipe to bring home, etc. in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Each month our "Try this Tuesday" sample is promoted on our school menu.

Redding Public Schools

Redding Elementary School

Aliza Stern, RD, Registered Dietitian

BEST PRACTICE:

 

The way we like to encourage our students to eat more fruits and vegetables with their lunch is by getting them more involved in the cafeteria. The students get more excited about their lunch when they feel like they've had a say in what they can take. For the past two years we have held a Recipe Contest at Redding Elementary School to offer students the chance to have their favorite family recipe added to the school lunch menu. Each year we have asked for students to submit their favorite recipes that highlight fruits or vegetables. The recipes submitted are reviewed and tested by the food services department. The winner is chosen and recognized on the morning announcements and the winning recipe is shared and enjoyed with the entire school during lunch. Since so many wonderful fun and healthy recipes are submitted we liked the idea of acknowledging everyone and each year we have created a school cookbook that highlights the students and families of Redding Elementary School.


Ridgefield Public Schools

East Ridge Middle School

BEST PRACTICE:

 

The "best practice" method used at ERMS is not only completely free, but it also realy simple to implement. Each day, they make sure to offer multiple colors of fruits and vegetables and to arrange them in a way that shows off the variation. Since we know students (and adults!) eat with their eyes almost as much as they eat with their stomach, they make sure to offer a variety of fruits and veggies daily that includes different colors.

Westport Public Schools

Bedford Middle School

Aliza Stern, RD Resident Dietitian

BEST PRACTICE:

 

In the past we have done a presentation for Middle School students on Smart Snacking. The purpose is to discuss better for you options that they can find not only in their cafeteria but outside of school as well. In the snacking age of 100 calorie packs, cream filled cookies, and caramel frappuccinos, our goal is to show students how to make fruits and vegetables the center of their snack. We aim to teach students that a snack should be like a mini meal and should include a couple food groups to ensure that it is healthy and balanced. We used the MyPlate guidelines to help students understand what their plate or snacks should look like. We also displayed snacks that offered more than one food group. Some of the items we displayed included a cup of grapes, crackers and cheese, vegetable crudité with dip, and fruit and yogurt parfaits.

Alcott School

Wolcott Public Schools

Eileen Girgenti, Food Service Director

BEST PRACTICE:

 

At Alcott Elementary School we held the Ellie Veggie Eating contest for grades K-2. The contest was a huge hit with the students. All students who ate a veggie at lunch either from home or school lunch received a sticker each day of the contest. Students would stop me in the hall to tell me what veggie they ate that day. We awarded 3 vegetable trays at the end of the contest. The were quite large, my manager said to me they will never eat this much, well she was proven wrong the teacher reported that the trays were wiped clean of all the vegetables. the contest was a huge success.

Wolcott Public Schools

Wakelee

Eileen Girgenti, Food Service Director

BEST PRACTICE:

 

To celebrate March as National Nutrition month we ran the promotion of Eat Right with Color. Our menus highlighted all vegetables in color with pictures to entice the elementary children to try veggies. Every day we have a rainbow fruit tray of assorted fruits and vegetables for the children to choose from. In conjunction with a the reading of the book "James and the Giant Peach" we got the last of the fresh peaches from Rogers Orchard to serve the students. It was a great hit.