Go Local with Farm to School

Issue No. 19 October 2022

Powered By


Can LOCAL FOODS in schools be a LOVE LANGUAGE?

FARM TO SCHOOL powered by hydroponics

Please consider donating to our friends at Florida School Nutrition Association. The FSNA foundation are fundraising on behalf of our School Food Nutrition Professionals working for schools that were severely affected by Hurricane Ian. These lunch heroes and staff’s homes and families were affected as well. Thank you for joining us in supporting members of our industry during this difficult time. Hurricane Ian Relief for School Food Service

The FSNA Foundation is working to make a positive difference for school food and nutrition families confronted with rebuilding their lives after Hurricane lan. On behalf of our School Food Nutrition professionals working for affected schools who have experienced devastating losses because of Hurricane lan’s ravaging path through Florida, we will need the help of all of our members, friends, and school food vendors for success. We would be most grateful if you would consider providing a monetary donation to those Staff and Lunch Heroes who work hard every day to provide healthy meals to children. Every donation dollar will go directly to school food and nutrition professionals in need of home repair or relocation, food and clothing. Please support our efforts and make a donation today.


Fundraiser organized by: Florida School Food Service Inc a registered nonprofit; Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.


Ready-to-Use Tips

FARM TO SCHOOL powered by hydroponics



Fork Farms Lalu Beré, Brand Vice President



FROM THE BLOG with Dr. Katie Wilson, SNS


Student voice in school food choice: Strategies to engage students in menu design

8 OUR LOVE LANGUAGE: Getting local foods into schools!

Edible Education: Slicing up Inspiration for Your Menu and More!

From our Partners 11 | Tyson K12 27 | School Nutrition Foundation Lead to Succeed!

2 | Hurricane Relief Fund Donate to FSNA

18 | Plastic Free Lunch Day Sponsored by

Foundation for the Hurricane Ian relief fund today!

Cafeteria Culture and Urban School Food Alliance

There’s More



Get a quick look at my go-to grains for weekly meal planning. Baltimore County Schools (MD) | Bites With Applewhite Bettina J. Applewhite, SNS GRAINS GO-TO My


Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad

DISTRICT spotlight

Memphis Shelby County Schools

27 23 A UNIQUE Farm to School CULINARY EXPERIENCE IN ITHACA, NEW YORK Nutrition Services Memphis, TN xoxo Gal Pal Val




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Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad Let’s get TikTok’n! by Valerie Weivoda, MS, RD, LD, SNS A unique Farm To School CULINARY EXPERIENCE An excerpt from New York SNA FreshBites Publication by Julie M. Raway, MPH, RDN, C DN, SNS, FAND From the Show Floor Vendor highlights from recent conferences District Spotlight Check out Memphis Shelby County Schools as the District Spotlight for October! USFA: From the Blog Student voice in school food choice: Strategies to engage students in menu design with Dr. Katie Wilson, SNS My Time at the Farm New to K12 Food & Nutrition, NxtGen Network Junior Editor visits Great Kids Farms with USFA by Kalista Photopulos Podcast Spotlight with Foodservice Powerplant Network My Go-To Grains Get a quick look at my go-to grains for weekly meal planning by Bettina J. Applewhite, SNS


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Florida Hurricane Relief Fund Donate today! Letter from the Editors & Served Highlights Edible Education Our love language: getting local foods into schools! with Pisanick Partners Farm To School, Powered by Hydroponics with Fork Farms by Lalu Beré Creating Spaces Modern cafe designs to match your delicious local food! with AmTab by Conor Doyle Plastic Free Lunch Day Coming Novemeber 2, 2022! Join USFA & Creative Culture in creating a plastic free culture! Farm To School with ICN ICN Resource of the Month Ready-to-Use Tips The great chile debate! with Ready Foods by Annelise McAuliffe Soares



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| Amanda@NxtGenNetwork.com | Co-Creator Co-Editor Amanda Venezia

| Marlon@NxtGenNetwork.com | Co-Creator Co-Editor Marlon Gordon

| Melissa@NxtGenNetwork.com | Co-Creator Chief Creative Officer Melissa Mayer

| Sarah@NxtGenNetwork.com | Digital Editor Sarah Kolcheck

Executive Assistant: Jennifer Savasta; Junior Editor: Kalista Photopulos




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Welcome to the age of the Digizine! Here are your October Highlights.

A letter from our editors

I am born and raised a city kid. Boston was my childhood playground of colored trains and buses connecting an ever-growing metropolis. My urban family didn’t have many traditions. There is only one that I can recall that demanded annual religious frequency, the Topsfield Fair. Almost two hours from our Hyde Park home, north of Boston we passed fields of corn and cows to attend “America’s Oldest County Fair.” Started in 1818 by the Essex County Agricultural Society, the cattle show turned fair ground celebrates all things farming.

The midway is a more recent addition the county fair of old but houses all your fair food dreams come true. The turkey gobbler with fresh sliced oven roasted turkey, homemade stuffing, sweet cranberry sauce, and just a dab of mayo is a must try. I have not indulged in the fried butter but every year it catches my eye. I never miss the free samples of fresh caramelized kettle corn, which yes, I always end up buying. This year the newest F&B addition was bubble tea and the kids lined up for it. I did control my baser instincts and walked past the chocolate covered bacon, but I can’t stop thinking about it... This childhood tradition is one that I continue with my kids. We celebrate our farmers, marvel at the bounty from our earth, smile at the newly born piglets, find the queen bee in the transparent hive, and eat fabulous food. As a child, this was a view into the very different perspective of life on a farm. While I envied the kids, who showed horse or cuddled baby goats after school, I gained a healthy appreciation for the hard-working farm


This traditional northern county fair welcomes over 500,000 attendees across its ten days. The grounds feature permanent barn buildings which house prize winning farming and agriculture. Forget FFVP, check out prize winning Fruit and Vegetables including the blue ribbon of the giant pumpkin weigh off (2,480 pounds this year!). A true fan favorite is the Poultry barn which houses the ever-popular baby chick incubator. Children and adults alike have to be pulled away from all this cuteness! Watching the immense effort expended to crack its shell and emerge, you are immersed in the chick’s struggle. It is truly mesmerizing.

families who sustain our culture. No farmers. No food. No future. Thank a farmer!

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Marlon attended FNCE 2022 this week and had a few hot-off-the-show-floor pictures and updates to share! Take a peek at what went down. Updates from Food Nutrition Conference & Expo HOT OFF THE SHOW FLOOR

Marlon met Donna Martin, the first & only person from K12 to hold the position of President for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

Marlon- FNCE Video-

Connecting with nutrition advocates from around the country

Honorary Membership Award Betti J. Wiggins, Houston ISD

“Throwback Thursday...” A story to give you chills! “Although I have had many FUNNY moments throughout my 27 year career. A VERY funny moment happened recently that helped to emphasize my age. Our Food and Nutrition Services Department just kicked off our inaugural “Throwback Thursday” menus. Once a month we bring back menu items from yesteryear. In August we brought back “Square Pizza”. Our Food Service Staff at Citrus High School (CHS) helped to get the students in the mood by dressing as Run DMC and playing their music while serving the students. The faculty and students were excited to partake of the square pizza but what made me laugh out loud is when a few students came up to me and asked why our staff was dressed as “pimps!” Obviously they are too young to remember Run DMC, which obviously makes me old!”

Submitted by: Roy Pistone Director of Food Services, Citrus County Schools, FL

Edible Education: Slicing up Inspiration for Your Menu and More! Looking for a little inspiration to help boost your menu cycle? Welcome to our column featuring bites of nutrition knowledge and insight for your team’s menu creation needs. Here you can digest four menu recipe categories to customize, create and expand your cycle menu for improved customer satisfaction. How about an easy to use cookbook with “Harvest of the Month,” “Simply Fresh,” “Global Trends,” and “Comfort Classic” recipes to fill your team’s idea basket? These recipes are sure to help inspire dishes that students will love and can easily be created in your kitchens to increase participation.

OUR LOVE LANGUAGE: Getting local foods into schools!

Farm to School is truly our LOVE LANGUAGE here at Pisanick Partners. Getting local foods into schools can help local economies and farmers, have beneficial environmental impacts, connect students to food systems, and best of all - it often just tastes better! It takes a village to truly succeed and sustain your local food impact on your program. We have been tenacious in our efforts to create and build resources and access in our community. We even held a nutrition summit that focused on strategies to increase local food in schools. Whether you are looking to take your first steps with getting more local items on your menus, or you want to increase the footprint of local items on your menus, there are many resources available that can assist you with your goals. Join our call to actions to help you join the movement. Properly procured local items take time and effort - but a cooperative buying group can help! Finding a local aggregator and distributor can help you avoid the administrative time to gain quick and easy

access to local foods in your area. Feed Our Future in Ohio helps support these activities and offers great resources to support buying local efforts. Reach out to these partners in your area and become a part of local initiatives. As a founding board member for the Feed

our Future non-profit group, Maureen Pisanick, encourages schools to “take the pledge” and gain resources that can be utilized to market use of local foods in their cafeterias. Alison Patrick, program manager for Feed Our Future, reports that her favorite part about Feed Our Future is that it was created side-

by-side with school nutrition professionals, education stakeholders, and community advocates to ensure that the turn-key solutions they provide increase the capacity for their partners to drive farm to school implementation in their local communities.

some of the top sellers in our cafeterias! To make it easy for staff to utilize the pizza dough, get the best results from the product, and give some recipe ideas we created an easy how-to video for kitchen staff. The local tortilla chips have been featured in a completely local Black Bean Fiesta Salad recipe. Farm to school efforts in the cafeteria offers the opportunity to create connections in the classroom and make the classroom an extension of the cafeteria! A variety of already created resources are available to teach about local food lessons. Partners with educators across various disciplines in your school to support local food education activities. Teaching students about food systems and where their food comes from

If you currently don’t utilize any local foods on your menus, perhaps start small by showcasing a simple Harvest of the Month recipe. These Harvest of the Month recipe videos have been created to spark creativity and show how easily recipes can be created that will add new interest in your menus.



Local or national food celebrations days and events, such as the Great Lakes Apple Crunch , that is celebrated every October in the Great Lakes region, offers the opportunity to take one food item and showcase it in a simple recipe, as in this baked apple recipe or this apple monkey bread muffin recipe . This kitchen manager went even further by engaging her community with this creative video that highlighted her ‘crunch day’ efforts. Once you get comfortable with adding a few local items to your menus, consider taking the next step with a local menu takeover DAY or week. Using local items on your menus can happen with more than just produce. Build interest in your menus with locally sourced value add products. What food vendors are in your area with a product that kids would be excited to see on their school menus? Locally sourced pizza dough and tortilla chips happen to be

Read On

Edible Education: Slicing up Inspiration for Your Menu and More!

can build enthusiasm for the cafeteria and connect menu missions with classroom education. This podcast with a local farmer, or these farmer trading cards, give students a look into the ‘real life faces’ behind where their food comes from. “Farm to school is one of the absolute best tools we have to contribute to local and economical growth for our food system, while also improving food access and diet quality for school-aged children. It can be as easy or as complex as a community wants it to be. Ultimately, kids will eat good food and that is what matters most!” ~ Alison Patrick, Program Manager, Feed our Future.

Morning Meetings with Maureen

What’s Up Wednesday LIVE - Interview with Brooke Gammie from Quarry Hill Orchards 12 min

Pisanick Partners is a nutrition and operations based consulting firm with decades of experience in Child Nutrition. We have refined our approach through creation of cycle menus, training and development of staff, and implementing strategies that take on the task of not only attaining nutritional excellence, but also financial success in the K-12 environment. Our experience not only supports a school district in meeting all state and federal mandates for implementing the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, but also the menu creation with an eye for detail and meticulous organization. The objective is to quickly and accurately evaluate, analyze and organize a district’s nutritional program to insure compliance and easy on-going maintenance. Meet our leadership team! (From left to right) Marge Robison, MPH, RDN-LDN Sarah Carlson, MS, RD-LD David Pisanick, Co-Founder, CFO Maureen Pisanick, RDN-LDN Founder, CEO Tina Hastings, Operations Specialist Gina Nash, Operations Specialist (not pictured)

In Every Bite! A +


Offer students the big, savory flavors they crave from the brands you trust. Choose from delicious, branded, individually wrapped sandwiches, Tyson ® All Natural* Bone-In Wings, Bosco ® Stuffed Breadsticks and more. Our wide variety of products make dining a favorite part of your student’s day. EXPLORE PRODUCTS HERE

Follow Us @TysonK12Schools

Contact your Tyson Foodservice Representative or visit tysonK12.com for product information, resources and market-relevant solutions backed by our trusted brands. *Minimally processed. No artificial ingredients. © 2022 Tyson Foods, Inc. Trademarks and registered trademarks are owned by Tyson Foods, Inc. or its subsidiaries, or used under license.


FARM TO SCHOOL powered by hydroponics

Fork Farms Lalu Beré, Brand Vice President

Photo courtesy of Fork Farms

At about 400 schools across the US, you can walk into the building and see a bright, shining light that seems to beckon you towards it. The light is surrounded by a tall cylinder of white. Usually, the light is surrounded by lush, leafy greens peeking out from the top and through narrow openings in the cylinder. The whole thing seems to glow. “What is this thing?” people ask. It’s a farm… indoors! That glowing hydroponic vertical farm is the Flex Farm, made by Fork Farms, a mission-first agriculture technology company. The Flex Farm is a fully self- contained farm that requires just a standard wall outlet, 9 square feet of space, and a few basic growing supplies to produce leafy greens, herbs, and other plants. Classroom teachers and food service directors have embraced the Flex Farm as a year-round indoor solution to grow fresh food for their school communities and to teach immersive STEM education. Fork Farms has partnered with hundreds of schools to bring hydroponic growing to the K-12 setting. The Flex Farm is a hands-on learning tool for students to understand where food comes from, how it grows, and how fresh food impacts their health. Kids participate in making seeds sprout and transform over a few short weeks into a full head of lettuce. Many times, it’s their first exposure to food that’s not already prepared on their plate. In a study at one of our partner schools, researchers found that after growing with the Flex Farm, students ate 33% more fresh vegetables, and their positive perceptions of fresh food increased by 46%!

In a study at one of our partner schools, researchers found that after growing with the Flex Farm, students ate 33% more fresh vegetables, and their positive perceptions of fresh food increased by 46%!


Beyond the classroom, food service programs use the Flex Farm to provide hyperlocal fresh produce in the cafeteria. The Flex Farm is a powerful tool with 288 plant spaces for growing. In a four-week growing cycle, the farm can produce over 500 servings of produce that meet the mandatory leafy green vegetable component on a school lunch tray. Menasha Joint School District (JSD) food service program in Wisconsin has grown the majority of the district’s leafy greens since 2019 in their 12-unit farm. This has allowed their program to provide a consistent source of nutrient-dense produce grown on-site, mitigating any concerns about supply chain disruptions or increasing prices.

Menasha JSD has also embraced their farm to expand students’ palates and

Read On

Train new hires and re-train veteran staff with LEAD to Succeed™ training from School Nutrition Foundation! The full “Communication for Impact” series is online and includes 12+ hours of Professional development training developed specifically for school nutrition professionals.


➤ IMPROVE key workplace communication skills

➤ ENGAGING EXERCISES + real-life case studies


F oundation Education, Research and Scholarship LEAD to Succeed™ is funded by a $2m grant from the Department of Agriculture and is available to all SNPs regardless of SNA membership. Non-members can create a guest account in the Training Zone to get started. SNF Dana Clerkin Director Did You Know? You can now request in-person or virtual LEAD to Succeed™ training at your next state agency or state affiliate meeting! You will be matched with a trainer that fits your needs, and the SNF staff will help you select from a menu of 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-hour training options to fit your needs.

700 S. Washington St. | Suite 300 Alexandria, VA 22314-4287 phone: 703.739.3900 800.8877.8822 fax: 703.739.3915 email: dclerkin@schoolnutrition.org



incorporate field trips to the farm into their curriculum and deepen learning on topics like plant biology, nutrition, food science, engineering, and environmental science. It’s a special way for staff to connect with students as well, which is one of their favorite parts of running the farm. Many school food service programs have robust soil gardens, and an indoor farm provides a perfect complement to extend the growing season. Our partners in Wisconsin’s Holmen School District have been growing outside and in greenhouses since 2009. They even have an apple orchard – how cool is that? The district recently expanded its program with an indoor farm to produce salad greens and other crops for school lunches. Best of all, some of the units are being managed by high schoolers in the agriculture program. These students will now round out their farming education with hydroponics, expanding their skill sets and broadening their appreciation for different farming methods. Read On

set their food service program apart. The program branded its salad mix using the name of the original building where the farm was housed to connect the greens to the students’ pride in district heritage. Staff also used their Flex Farms to grow uncommon items like bok choy, which was integrated into a special Asian-themed menu.


Once the greens were put on the middle and high school menus, program staff observed a sizable increase in vegetable consumption with more interest in the salad bar and other specialty items that incorporated the produce. Menasha’s food service department also partners with district teachers to educate and engage kids. Regularly, food service program staff provide tours of the farm for students to see the large-scale farming operation up close. Teachers can

than seeing a district post a picture of happy kids tending to their Flex Farms or showing off a new menu creation from the produce they helped to grow. Every day, we set out to inspire and empower everyone to grow fresh food, nourish their communities, and heal the planet. We do this because every person should be able to access fresh food, and the incredible folks who run K-12 food service programs are on the front lines of making this a reality for kids across the country. We thank all our partners for

We do this because every person should be able to access fresh food, and the incredible folks who run K-12 food service programs are on the front lines of making


this a reality for kids across the country.

Visit Fork Farms online to learn more about utilizing hydroponics in your Farm To School Initiatives. their fantastic work and we are grateful to be a part of it!

This Farm to School month, Fork Farms is celebrating the inventive ways our K-12 partners bring their school farms to life to feed kids more nutritious food and help students connect with their food in new ways. Nothing brings us more pride

Lalu Beré Brand Vice President, Fork Farms

Lalu is enthusiastic about all things people, produce, and planet. She has held professional roles in marketing, brand management, business development, financial analysis, and fundraising. Lalu joined Fork Farms in 2021 and leads the organization’s work to engage, support, and elevate its partner network. Beyond work, you can find Lalu spending time outside with her family, cooking a (mostly) plant-based diet, and chasing her dog, Pickles.

Conor is actively involved in this school nutrition company who helps provide valuable insight on café modernization projects across the country. His favorite part about working with schools is knowing that students and staff will love their modernized spaces. Being able to transform ordinary environments to extraordinary ones that students love being a part of is amazing! Conor graduated from DePaul University with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing. Find Conor on LinkedIn! Digital Marketing Specialist, AmTab Manufacturing Conor Doyle Creating Spaces

Modern Cafe Designs to Match Your Delicious Local Food!

Farm to School is an amazing program that benefits all parties. Schools reap the benefits of getting locally sourced products. Students learn about nutrition, agriculture, health and food inside and outside the classroom. Farmers see economic gains and their crops directly serve their local community. It really is a true win-win-win for everybody. Now that you have access to these fresh food products, what’s next? You are establishing a nutritious environment for your students for them to enjoy. Now it might be time to look at creating a modern, popular, environment outside the kitchen. Let’s take a look at your food court!

both. A question you might be asking yourself is, “are all these changes worth it though?”

The answer here is: YES! You want to create an environment that students want to be a part of. This is a bright space with great colors, logos, and graphics on windows and walls. Who wouldn’t want to eat here? At the end of the day, you want to maximize this area to get the most students participating in your school nutrition program as possible. An environment like this will definitely help with that! Combining delicious and healthy food with a beautiful environment will help get more students excited about breakfast & lunch!

Does your food court look something like this?

That’s how a lot of food courts look across the country. These are still good spaces where students can enjoy those delicious farm to school products.Taking the dining experience to the next level would consist of adding more color to this room. Whether it be color to the furniture, walls or

Click here to Learn how your food court can be transformed!

Join us November 2nd, 2022

What is Plastic Free Lunch Day? A day when school lunch is prepared without plastic! An action day to reduce as much plastic as possible. A way to protect the environment and student health. Provide a glimpse of a plastic-free school cafeteria future.

18 On November 2, 2022, Cafeteria Culture and Urban School Food Alliance (USFA) invite you to join New York City, Dallas, San Diego and other USFA members– seventeen of the nation’s largest school districts–for the first ever Plastic Free Lunch Day USA! Schools everywhere are invited to participate by leading any plastic free lunch action on November 2, 2022. Read on! We show you how! Together, on a single day, we will eliminate or reduce single-use plastic

Connect with students everywhere, who are taking climate action in their cafeteria.


foodware in school cafeterias to protect

Cafeteria Culture is an environmental education nonprofit and the force behind the award-winning student-led film Microplastic Madness. Plastic Free Lunch Day grew out of Cafeteria Culture’s partnerships with the New York City students, DOE Office of Sustainability, and DOE Office of Food and Nutrition Services, a founding USFA member.

student health and the environment. It is our hope that one plastic free day leads to another...!

Creating A

Plastic Free Culture! The first Plastic Free Lunch Day (PFLD) was spearheaded by fifty-six PS 15 fifth- graders in Red Hook Brooklyn, as portrayed in Cafeteria Culture’s award-winning student-led movie, Microplastic Madness . On PFLD, students eliminated plastic utensils, drinking cups, and condiment packets. Students conducted a before and after waste audit and on PFLD counted 558 fewer lunchtime single-use plastic items!



Nationwide, school cafeterias serve 7.35 billion meals annually , making a large contribution to the global plastic waste stream. School lunches are loaded with single-use plastics, such as plastic wrap, utensils, utensil wrap, cups, lids, bowls, straws, condiment packets, cartons, chip & snack bags, baggies, clamshells and styrofoam trays. Collectively, US school cafeterias have the potential to significantly reduce plastic pollution. Most plastic is not recycled and ends up in landfills or the environment. And because plastic does not biodegrade, it stays around for centuries, endlessly fragmenting into small pieces, first microplastics, then nanoplastics. Plastic pieces now permanently contaminate our soil, water and air. We eat a credit card’s worth of plastic each week and we breathe even more. Scientists have found plastic particles in the human placenta, and in our lungs, liver, digestive tract and blood. Plastic food packaging and foodwarer create additional health problems. They leak petrochemical monomers, heavy metals, and persistent organic pollutants into our food and drink. About 12% of plastic is burned in incinerators where it emits dioxins and other toxic gasses.

Click here to participate and share your plastic free lunch action idea!

USFA is committed to creating a culture within our organization that ensures an

Cafeteria Culture works creatively with youth to achieve equitable zero waste, climate-smart school

equitable experience for all stakeholders and equitable access to healthy school meals for all students. In pursuit of this, we are committed to fostering a diverse workforce, board of directors and membership base and being intentional about including a diversity of voices in school food conversations.

communities and a plastic free biosphere. Our programs foster youth-led solutions by merging citizen science, civic action, media, storytelling and the arts.

The Institute of Child Nutrition works to help Child Nutrition Program operators remain up to date on best practices in preparing and serving meals to children. Farm to school has proven to be a driving force in child nutrition programs and has quickly become an everyday factor in successful child nutrition programs across the nation. Did you know? According to the National Farm to School Network: • 76.8% of school food authorities are utilizing fresh, locally grown foods on their menus. • 67,369 schools utilize local foods and produce in their daily menus.

Farm-to-school benefits students, farmers, and the community while emphasizing education, economic development, environment, equity, and overall public health. The consistent positive attributes it brings to everyone are why we will continue to see an increase in the number of schools participating. Empowering children and adults to make (and understand) healthy food choices is a far- reaching benefit of farm-to-school efforts. Motivating farmers or teachers to continue growing and outsourcing their products is essential to the continued success and overall health of our nation’s children. Farm to school has continuously proven beneficial and impactful in the child nutrition industry. Many child nutrition operators struggling to feed students turned to local growers during COVID-19 when faced with supply chain issues (FoodCorps, 2021). Schools in every state continue to face procurement barriers, global supply chain delays, and struggle to feed students (FoodCorps, 2021). Not only is farm to school an excellent source for educating school children on the importance of nutrition and farming, but it could also be the solution to school cafeterias facing supply chain problems. Read On

• 42.8 million students across the nation are benefiting from farm to school programs and activities. • All five meal components can be procured by farm-to-school partnerships!

Farm-to-school efforts have exploded in the past three decades. Integrating fresh local goods into the meals students receive at school allows for an impactful, educational, and nutritional experience. It bears repeating that ALL FIVE meal components (milk, fruits, vegetables, meats/meat alternates, whole grains) can be procured with farm-to-school processes!

Kids win. Farmers win. Communities win.

Check out these resources: • STAR Strategies to Help Implement a Successful Farm to School Program • CICN Farm to School: Fresh Ideas for Preparing Fall Fruits and Vegetables • The Dirt: USDA Farm to School e-Letter • National Farm to School Network Connect with us to be the first to know about new resource releases, webinar registration, and CICN podcast episodes.

Farm-to-school efforts can be individualized for different school meal operations. • Consider using DOD fresh to purchase local produce . Yes, this is farm to school! • Partner with a local orchard or grower. Yes, this is farm to school! • Start or support a school garden. Yes, this is farm to school. • Plan a field trip to a local grower. Yes, this is farm to school. ICN is here to support and applaud your farm- to-school efforts!

ICN harvest video

The Child Nutrition Sharing Site (CNSS) is your one-stop-shop for operation-related Child Nutrition Program (CNP) Resources. We encourage you to check out the Farm to School resources and upload your own to the CNSS.

These pictures and video were taken at the K-12 School Forum hosted by the International Fresh Produce Association in July 2022. The produce industry and K-12 operators are intrinsically connected - two out of five school meal components are produce. Together, we work to provide and encourage fresh produce offerings for children at schools. All of these efforts and partnerships strengthen farm to school efforts.


• FoodCorps. (2021, October 12). How supply chain challenges are affecting school nutrition. • Lockman, Cathy. (2017, September 28). Oregon farm to school program nourishes appetites and minds. Farm Flavor • National Farm to School Network. (2021). About national farm to school network.

Shannon FitzGerald, MS RDN

Shannon is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who joined the Institute of Child Nutrition in 2020. She is passionate about child nutrition, public health issues, food systems, and social justice, creating a healthy path for the next generation. Shannon has a bachelor of science degree in dietetics from Indiana University and a master’s degree in nutrition from Case Western Reserve University. She is working on her Ph.D. in public health at the University of Mississippi.

The Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN), part of the School of Applied Sciences at The University of Mississippi, is the only federally funded national center dedicated to applied research, education and training, and technical assistance for child nutrition programs. The Institute’s mission is to provide information and services that promote the continuous improvement of child nutrition programs. ICN Website About ICN Subscribe to ICN Newsletters and Resource Update Emails Here!

Graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Annelise has spent her career making sure food sounds appetizing on paper, looks good in pictures and tastes amazing when you order it. Her day-to-day consists of working as Marketing Manager at Ready Foods to connect food service operators with ready-to-use kitchen solutions that are easy to incorporate into a kitchen flow and bring great flavor to menu items. Her favorite hot lunch in elementary school was always nacho day. Ready Foods Annelise McAuliffe Soares Ready-to-Use Tips!

Ready for a fun food debate? Read on! If you’re not from the southwest, you may not feel the need to proclaim your alliance to the Hatch or Pueblo chile side. You may not even know what we’re talking about! Roasted, mild chiles are trending. They bring a great earthy, smokey flavor to mac and cheese, burritos, pizza, even pie! (Think a sweet and savory pie, like a peach pie with a few diced chiles in the filling mix.) If you have a recipe that uses bell peppers, we highly suggest swapping it out for the Hatch or Pueblo chile for a fun new take. So, what is the debate all about? The Hatch pepper hails from New Mexico, where it must be grown in the protected Hatch region. Think of Champagne grapes having to be grown and made into wine in the Champagne region of France in order to get its name. Similarly, the Pueblo chile is a different kind of pepper that must come from Pueblo, Colorado. While these peppers are very different, both are grown by amazing farmers, harvested in the fall and roasted to perfection. Once roasted, they can be stored in a freezer and enjoyed all winter long. With growing regions a mere 500 miles apart, Hatch and Pueblo chiles could not be more different from each other. Despite the competitive debate of which is better, comparing the two is like comparing apples to oranges. Here are their differences. Pueblo Chiles The Great Chile Debate!

History: Mirasol’s Mosco is the true variety name of the Pueblo chile. A Mirasol’s Mosco can be grown elsewhere, but it can only be called a Pueblo chile if it is grown in Pueblo, CO. “Mira sol” means to look at the sun and references the growing pattern of the chiles. Unlike many other peppers, the Pueblo chile grows pointing up, towards the sun, instead of hanging down. Colorado’s hot sunny days, cool nights, and dry climate are ideal for giving the chili its hot, bold flavor and thicker skin, which leads to a delightful crunch. The history of the Pueblo chile is uncertain, but a variety that is similar to what is now grown in Pueblo was most likely first brought to the area in the 1840’s. Since then, selective cultivation and planting has turned the chile into the crop we see today. Hatch Chiles


Heat Level? The heat level of Hatch chiles ranges from 0 to 7,000 Scoville Heat Units , depending on the variety planted. Milder and more consistent in heat level than Pueblo chiles, Hatch chiles are great for cooking because they provide a balanced, tickle of heat.

History: Technically Hatch is not a type of pepper. Hatch is a marketing term that refers to a New Mexico Chile that has been grown in the Hatch Valley of New Mexico. The Hatch chile must be grown in the Hatch Valley in order to be called Hatch, otherwise it is simply a New Mexico Chile. This modern-day chile plant was developed at New Mexico State University in 1894. The peppers start out green and then ripen to red, although most are harvested before they change color. The shape of a Hatch pepper is longer and skinnier than a Pueblo pepper. Their short growing season helps make Hatch peppers special, they’re planted in April and harvested in August. To preserve the peppers for later in the year, many are roasted and frozen after harvesting.

Heat Level? The heat levels of Pueblo chiles are generally higher and tend to have a wider range than a Hatch. The spiciness ranges from 5,000 to 20,000 Scoville Heat Units.

Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad

Self-Proclaimed Recipe Concoctor Valerie Weivoda, MS, RD, LD, SNS

You may have seen the Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad floating around TikTok. I love cucumbers in a salad, but I’m not a big fan of snacking on them all by themselves. However, I love Asian cuisine, and I’m always giving food I don’t love a second, third and fifty-ninth chance. So, I had to give it a try! If you like cucumbers, this dish is for you! If you like spicy Asian flare, this dish is for you! If you just like a refreshing low calorie snack, this dish is for you! Here’s what you need: • 1-2 lb mini cucumbers (about 8) • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar • 1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce • 1 Tbsp soy sauce* • ½ Tbsp sesame oil • 1 tsp granulated sugar • 1 tsp minced garlic • Sesame seeds & chili flakes, to taste On a side note: I’ve seen recipes that preach to only use original soy sauce, no light or soy alternative. You can play around with it and see what makes the difference! I’ve also seen recipes vary on their ratio of vinegar to soy sauce. Some have a 1:1 while others have a 2:1 ratio. Again, this is something you can easily play around with in your own kitchen! Not feeling

all that heat? No problem, just leave out the chili flakes at the end! Now let’s get TikTok’n. Rinse and dry your cucumbers. Using chopsticks to prevent you from slicing all the way through, you’re going to slice the cucumber at a diagonal. Slice down one side of the cucumber then flip and do the same to the other side. Now you have a beautiful accordion-style veggie! Next, you want to toss the cucumbers in salt and let them sit for about 30 minutes to draw out the water inside. Then rinse the salt off. While the cucumbers are dehydrating, make your spicy marinade mixing together all of your other ingredients. Pour the marinade over the cucumbers. Give it a good mix and let it marinade for an hour or overnight. When ready to serve, give it another good toss. Now you’re ready to plate! This is an easy veggie to make at home with the kiddos and getting them involved in the kitchen. This would also be a great farm-to-school activity for a culinary class in your school. Not only does the accordion-style look fun, it’s fun to eat, too!

Valerie Video

xoxo Gal Pal Val

Growing up in a family of 6 children with parents and older siblings that cooked, I have always been curious in the kitchen. My love for food and fitness led me to pursue a Master’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Mississippi. During my internship I had a spark of interest in school nutrition. Now, as a director, I try to create and menu at least one new recipe each month, whether it be a taste test at one school or something menued across the district. In my spare time, I love to create my own recipes at home, prepare and review other’s recipes, and talk about all things wellness on my Instagram page: @val.weivoda_rd. Valerie Weivoda, MS, RD, LD, SNS Child Nutrition Department Director, Lee County School District (MS)




Broome-Tioga BOCES Rock on Cafe TM along with their farm to school partners, the Food and Health Network and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County hosted their first ever hands-on Farm to School Culinary Experience for BOCES and area school nutrition staff, managers and

Service Director for Broome-Tioga BOCES. “We provide area farmers the opportunity throughout the school year to supply our students with the freshest ingredients. The training further educated staff on skills in utilizing the plethora of farm-fresh products to their fullest. “We are excited to build a solid foundation of new skills for our employees to further our students’ exposure to locally grown and sourced products”, Hudock added. Attendees practiced knife skills and learned to use a Robot Coupe, which has been a key piece of equipment in processing local fresh fruits and veggies for students to enjoy. In the culinary kitchen, attendees fine-tuned cooking skills such as roasting veggies and appropriately seasoning recipes. The menu included Chicken and Veggie Lo Mein, Pasta Fagioli Soup, Garden Salad, Cheesy Cauliflower, Maple Sweet Carrots, ABC Salad (made with apples, beets, and carrots), and Strawberry Shortcake. Participants found the knife skills training the most valuable aspect of the experience and are looking forward to offering the Chicken and Veggie Lo Mein to students out of the recipes they prepared. After surveying participants, 91% were satisfied or very satisfied with the culinary experience. “Exposing our youth to fresh, local, and nutritious foods is at the heart of our Farm-to-School program,” said Tara

directors. The event was held June 27-30 at Coltivare in Ithaca, NY. Coltivare is the hub for all of the hospitality programs that are offered by Tompkins Cortland Community College. Over 4 days, 200 school nutrition professionals from the 15 districts in the Southern Tier participated in a hands- on skill-based training to support the NY Thursday and Farm to School Program. The experience kicked off with Sonya Joy Key, Chef and Garden Educator at Poughkeepsie Farm Project , whose vision is a community that works collaboratively to provide equitable access to nutritious food through a just and resilient food system. Attendees learned preparation and cooking skills while making Farm to School recipes that will be served to students in area schools this fall. “Our hands- on Farm to School training has been many years in the making,” said Annie Hudock, Senior Food


Kenyon, associate director of programs, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County. “The Broome-Tioga Farm to School Culinary Experience provided the necessary training for our school food service workers to be able to prepare and serve farm-fresh products capturing the most nutritional value. Kenyon added,“This was important as we partner to provide both Ag in the Classroom and nutrition education to support our youth to develop healthy eating behaviors and reinforce the connection of how our local food system positively impacts our health.” “The Broome-Tioga BOCES Farm to School culinary experience provided substantial benefits to the Farm to School Program,” said Hannah Rion, Farm to School coordinator, Food and Health Network, a program of the Rural Health Network of South Central New York. “The program continuously sparks collaboration amongst farmers, community organizations, students, and school food service,” she said. “These essential partnerships remain the core of the program and will be strengthened through additional professional development. This training will specifically equip school food service staff with the necessary tailored skills to continue to grow the program and provide fresh, local products to our local youth.” Thank you to the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets and U.S. Department of Agriculture for support to create this amazing educational experience for staff and mangers that helps farm to school programs grow. For more photos, be sure to check out the Rock on Café Facebook , Instagram, and Twitter pages.


Click HERE to watch more Farm to School videos!

https://vimeo. com/751840222

From The Show Floor Live is the trade show experience delivered live through video to viewers all over the nation. We visit with the most interesting and innovative exhibitors and talk to them about what makes them special and a viable solution to enhance your program. Watch more live videos HERE.


https://vimeo. com/758850455

https://vimeo. com/758848167

https://vimeo. com/758850070


Goodcents goodcentssubs.com

Jarritos jarritos.com

Ripple ripplefoodservice.com

USFA Bi-Annual Member Meeting Arizona SNA




https://vimeo. com/758848167

North American Blueberry Council

Cherry Central Cooperative

Deeply Rooted Farms




Dick & Jane Educational Snacks

Food Service Sustainability Solutions

Mushroom Council

National Egg Board




https://vimeo. com/757948157

National Dairy Council

Pacific Northwest Canned Pears

USA Pulses

Want us to be a part of your association tradeshow? Contact NxtGen Network Here!

Lunch Assist

DISTRICT spotlight

Memphis Shelby County Schools

Nutrition Services Memphis, TN

The Nutrition Services department of Memphis Shelby County Schools is next level when it comes to their program, food presentation, marketing, and their amazing teams. Let’s take a look at a few reasons MSCS Nutrition Services is this month’s spotlight district. Food Presentation Want more inspiring photos? They are on Facebook and Instagram, too!

Videos Check out their YouTube channel for even more resources!

https://youtu.be/rSZ- m0UFdn_I

Choose Your Local Farmer’s Market Join our team from Nutrition Services and Agricenter International as we learn what makes a farmer’s market such a local gem.


https://youtu.be/UUl_ Wgt-riI

Two-Minute Pumpkin Butter A quick, easy recipe loaded with all the fall feels!

Student & Staff Involvement


with Dr. Katie Wilson, SNS

Student voice in school food choice: Strategies to engage students in menu design

As millions of students in our member districts and those across the country returned to school this month, they were greeted by familiar faces in the cafeteria and exciting additions to the menu. Though the options may seem new to many students, school nutrition programs have been working in the background for months or more to find the best new products and customize the menu for the upcoming school year. This includes the important work of engaging students in the process to learn more about what they love. Student feedback is critical to creating healthy and delicious school meals. It helps ensure that new recipes resonate with the trends and preferences of youth and encourages students to experience new foods. However, the process isn’t only beneficial to school nutrition programs. It also provides students with hands-on learning opportunities. For example, by participating in the decision-making process, students learn more about the high nutrition standards that school meals are required to meet, including the necessary meal components. This may help students understand how school meals differ from those they encounter at fast food restaurants or the grocery store. Additionally, it willcan help reinforce MyPlate guidelines and the importance of eating a balanced diet. Partnering with students on menu design fosters a sense of agency, promotes the importance of civic participation, and demonstrates their ability to create change in their schools and communities by using their voice. Urban School Food Alliance members operate a variety of creative programs and activities to ensure

that student voice is represented in the menu design process. Below are a few examples of the great partnerships in our member districts between students and school nutrition professionals.

Students in Los Angeles Unified School District sample new menu items and provide feedback in July 2022.

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) connects with families throughout the year to sample new products and gather feedback for menu and procurement decisions. Items must receive a 75% approval rating or higher in order to make it on the menu. To ensure these events capture a large and diverse sample of responses, LAUSD Food Services hosts taste tests at different school sites each school year for students and their parents. During the 2022-2023 school year, LAUSD will conduct taste testing at three sites in October, and again in March, each with 300-500 participants. Additionally, LAUSD schools utilize events like back-to-school nights, Meet the Teacher, open house, and other school functions as opportunities to offer samples to students and parents and highlight menu options.

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