Not Your Mother's School Lunch: How 'Fresh Eyes' Transformed Rapid City Area Schools

Not Your Mother's School Lunch: How 'Fresh Eyes' Transformed Rapid City Area Schools

“When you think about school lunch, oftentimes a woman with a hairnet and scooper is what people imagine,” says Janelle Peterson, Manager of Student Nutrition for Rapid City Area Schools (RCAS). “That’s just the connotation---but we’re not your mother’s school lunch.”

Peterson developed and abides by the RCAS tagline, which promotes “ensuring a successful tomorrow through extraordinary moments today.” She and her team feel a responsibility to not only monitor food safety, but to deliver a complete dining experience.

“We see the kids every day,” says Peterson. “If they choose to dine with us, we can give them a friendly smile or listen when they’re having a bad day. It’s just so awesome to get that opportunity.”

PRO·TEAM PARTNERSHIP

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In 2017, RCAS sought to blast through school lunch stereotypes by redefining its brand.

They had several ideas for improvement but weren’t sure where to begin. Which ideas were viable, which were impractical, and how should they prioritize? Most importantly, what was missing?

RCAS knew they needed a fresh pair of eyes.

With the expert guidance of Pro•Team Foodservice Advisors, RCAS evaluated its staffing, menus, delivery systems, and marketing.  Here’s what they discovered through Pro•Team’s “Fresh Eyes” review.

RCAS PRIMARY CHALLENGES

1. BRANDING. “We have 23 schools and I did not want 23 separate silos,” explains Peterson. “I wanted a global service.” That meant creating a cohesive dining experience for students, from kindergarten all the way up to the 12th grade.

2. CHANGE AVERSION. Some staff were concerned about the loss of school identity. If dining services didn’t feature their mascot and colors, for example, wouldn’t this undermine the school’s unique attributes?

3. SATELLITE SCHOOLS.  Because RCAS has 15 sites without kitchens, two high schools shared the responsibility of food preparation. While this worked well for food distribution, there were concerns about the consistency of the food product going out. 

4. SUMMERTIME. Students benefited from the RCAS feeding program if they lived close to the sites. For those who lived faraway, however, food access remained an issue. RCAS considered food trucks as a possible solution.

PRO·TEAM SOLUTIONS

1. ENDORSEMENT. Peterson needed data to substantiate change. Because she had the backing of Pro•Team (and a comprehensive report, to boot), she was able to write a five-year strategic plan. Her plan subsequently convinced stakeholders to reform the RCAS student nutrition program.

2. MARKETING NUDGE. With the expert advice of Pro•Team, RCAS branded its “Fresh Choice Café,” which carries its own logo, signage, and signature offerings. Now students can recognize the brand and associate it with consistency.

3. CONSOLIDATE AND AUTOMATE. Pro•Team advised consolidating meal preparation to one school and purchasing a machine to overwrap meals (which had previously been done by hand). As a result, one school was freed up to focus on signature line items, and greater efficiency and food consistency were achieved.

4. LEVERAGING GOOD IDEAS. Summer food trucks were an innovative solution, and Pro•Team encouraged taking it a step further. They advised RCAS to capture the open campus students, which RCAS did by adding a six-week program in the fall. “Students are just blown away,” shares Peterson. “It makes them feel really special.”

5. SUCCESSION. Pro•Team envisioned five years---and beyond. They suggested a succession plan, which would leave the program in good hands after Peterson’s departure. Peterson has since hired an assistant manager.


ARE YOU READY TO TAKE YOUR PROGRAM TO THE NEXT LEVEL?

Contact an advisor to discuss how “Fresh Eyes” will give your program a whole new look.

info@proteamadvisors.com

Toll Free: 844-662-3767


A Case for the Busy School Nutrition Team: How ‘Fresh Eyes’ Helped Cincinnati Public Schools

A Case for the Busy School Nutrition Team: How ‘Fresh Eyes’ Helped Cincinnati Public Schools

The food service program for Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) holds itself to a high standard: with an award-winning director, innovative practices, and a fiscally sound structure, Cincinnati’s team is a study in possibilities.

“We wanted to take our program to the next level but we didn’t know how,” said Jessica Shelly, CPS Food Services Director. “We needed a new perspective to validate barriers we thought were there, and to identify things we were doing really well.”

CPS needed a strategy for growth but there were veritable obstacles. Staff time was limited, and resource constraints were a factor. Further, leadership perspectives were just too close to the source, rendering an objective evaluation almost impossible.

What they needed was a fresh pair of eyes.

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PRO·TEAM PARTNERSHIP

Pro·Team arrived to conduct a “Fresh Eyes” review, which was purchased through the redemption of Cool School Points. Thankfully for Shelly and her team, the “Fresh Eyes” report was more than just a stuffy document---it was the impetus they had been waiting for.

CPS PRIMARY CHALLENGES

  1. MARKETING. “We struggled with establishing an identity and a level of respect,” said Shelly. CPS needed a marketing strategy---not just for revenue but to approach operations from a holistic perspective and embrace the “Why?” of what they were doing.

  2. EXPOSURE AND DISCLOSURE.  “It’s not easy opening yourself up for criticism,” said Shelly, “even if it does benefit your organization.” This is true for all institutions looking to survey strengths and weaknesses; it can feel like an outsider stepping in with a microscope.

  3. THE RISK OF HIRING THE WRONG CONSULTANT. Outside consultants might supply what’s theoretically “right,” but if those recommendations aren’t feasible, then it’s nothing more than a report. CPS Food Services needed to know it was hiring the right people.

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PRO·TEAM SOLUTIONS

  1. A STRONG ALLIANCE. Pro·Team gracefully entered the CPS Food Services arena by establishing a shared mission. This wasn’t about looking for flaws; this was about identifying opportunities. Pro·Team’s “circle of safety” assuaged concerns and allowed staff to engage in honest dialogue. Consequently, an accurate assessment could be executed.

  2. HOMEWORK. CPS Food Services chose Pro·Team because of its consultants. These experts earned their wisdom from experience, which means Pro·Team advice was grounded in feasibility. Consultants took policies, procedures, and resources into consideration so that their recommendations had the best chance of success.

  3. A FRESH ASSET. The “Fresh Eyes” review was packed with creative solutions for short- and long-term impact. Facts, figures, and marketing strategies filled the pages, which meant decisions could be tied to data. It was the ROI document CPS needed to influence leaders and stakeholders.

  4. A FRESH START. CPS Food Services took immediate action after the review. A formal request was made for two additional staff members and, thanks to Pro·Team, that request was supported by ROI data. Likewise, CPS now has a marketing strategy, which was the missing ingredient for advancing their program.

ARE YOU READY TO TAKE YOUR PROGRAM TO THE NEXT LEVEL?

Contact an advisor to discuss how “Fresh Eyes” will give your program a whole new look.

info@proteamadvisors.com

Toll Free: 844-662-3767

Beyond the Salad Bowl... Can Vegetable Variety Be Trendy?

Beyond the Salad Bowl... Can Vegetable Variety Be Trendy?

The Romaine lettuce scares have left grocery shelves bare and salad bowls lacking lately. The need to look at another option for green leafy vegetables has hit schools hard, too. Suppliers struggle to deep up with the demand for Romaine-free leafy greens with limited inventories of other lettuces. So what options are there to provide deep green vegetables? A variety of veggies can fit the need. Several of these vegetables have been trending in popularity - so the time is right to offer them as new alternatives!

Why does tracking data matter for nutrition services programs?

Why does tracking data matter for nutrition services programs?

As part of our commitment to provide directors with resources and guidance we are sharing guidance from Jean Ronnei, SNS, (Senior Consultant at ProTeam Foodservice Advisors, Former Nutrition Services Director and Chief Operations Officer at Saint Paul Public Schools and Past President - SNA) on why Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) matter for school food services departments.

Join in the Great Lakes Apple Crunch

Join in the Great Lakes Apple Crunch

ProTeam encourages you to join the 2018 Great Lakes Apple Crunch! This activity is a wonderful way to celebrate Farm to School month and national school lunch week. Here is all you need to know from the Great Lakes Apple Crunch website.

Back to School!

Back to School!

It's back to school time again. For some of us, it's back to school meals. But for many of us that served meals all summer, it's business as usual. However, no matter how you look at it, this time of year is an optimal time to promote your meal programs.

Visit Pro-Team at an annual conference near you!

Visit Pro-Team at an annual conference near you!

ProTeam is on the road for several conferences in the next few months. Will you be making a trip to a state school nutrition conference or the SNA ANC conference for excellent educational opportunities?

June is Dairy Month!

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June is Dairy Month!

Before you send the kids out the door one last time this year, remind them that they can make their delicious summer ice cream treats even more nutritious by adding fresh fruits as a topping.

Summer berries, such as strawberries and blueberries, are a great addition all by themselves....low-fat granola and peanuts are also great toppings as well (and certainly much better for them than sugary chocolate syrups).

Later on in the summer, peaches are also a great low-calorie addition to frozen yogurt or ice cream.

Other ideas they can try in a pinch--try some of their favorite breakfast cereal on top!  Crisped rice, corn flakes, and other cereals work well with lots of flavors.  Ask the kids now to experiment over the summer and when they come back in the fall, have them tell you what combination they found was their favorite.

Find any great combinations?  Chocolate chip with almonds?  Spumoni with pretzels?  Let us know!

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School's out (almost) for the summer...

As the 2017-2018 school year is winding down for everyone, kids, teachers, and food service professionals are all looking forward to sunny days, starry nights and spending quality time with family and friends.

One of the best parts of summer is, of course, the cookouts and picnics...as well as the return of fresh strawberries, blueberries, watermelons and, before too long, fresh apples.

While many children will enjoy lots of healthy foods during their summer break, a few may have not have access to all the nutritious foods they need.  Fortunately, the USDA is again providing parents and their kids with information as to where they can get nutritious free meals this summer:

https://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks

Parents and children can find the location and times to find healthy food options.  All they need to do is visit this site and put in their address, city, state, and ZIP Code, and they'll be able to discover the places to get nutritious alternatives to picnic fare.

From all of us at here at Pro•Team Foodservice Advisors, have a safe and healthy summer!

 

 

School Lunch Heros

School Lunch Heros

School Lunch Hero Day and School Nutrition Employee Week

Celebrate School Lunch Hero Day: Friday, May 4, 2018

Celebrate School Nutrition Employee Week: May 7-11, 2018

Funding opportunity for schools -- Apply today!

Funding opportunity for schools -- Apply today!

Breakfast is the best start to your student's day. Breakfast is also a great place to start when implementing school health and wellness programs. Getting kids to eat breakfast requires creativity and ingenuity. It also may require some additional support, both programmatic and fiscal. If you are looking for some funding support, the time is winding down to apply for a Game On, Parents for Healthy Kids, or Breakfast grant for the 2018-2019 school year. Action for Healthy Kids has resources to help you make a difference at your schools through these three grants. It is important to note that you may apply for a grant for each of your schools - and increase the resources to grow health and wellness in your district. Get instructions and resources for applying, and make sure you get your application in by April 6! Check out information on the Action for Healthy Kids website for the 2018-2019 School Grants for Healthy Kids.

What's Hot 2018 Culinary Forecast

What's Hot 2018 Culinary Forecast

Menu trends for 2018 are of interest to all of us. As school nutrition professionals, we know our students are on-trend in fashion, technology and food. If you are looking at some insight into what's hot this year, read on!

50 shades of ethics

50 shades of ethics

…ethics is defined as moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity...(Oxford dictionary). Ethical choices are not always black and white...

Are You a Wellness Champion?

Are You a Wellness Champion?

The deadline is looming… are you ready? The “deadline” in question is the date for Local School Wellness Policy Compliance – June 30, 2017. All Local Education Agencies (LEAs) that participate in the USDA reimbursable meal programs must fully comply with the requirements of the final Local School Wellness Policy (LWP) rule by June 30, 2017.