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Issue No. 9 September 2021

SELF-CARE & POSITIVITY The Synergy of for Motivation

TAKE 3 and, it’s free! Getti g the most for our families with Healthy Meals at No Charge!




SELF-CARE &POSITIVITY The Synergy of for Motivation JTM Food Group Alison Powers, MBA, RDN



New York SNA Executive Director Jennifer Martin, MBA, CAE



In This Issue

Letter from the Editors 4 Highlights & Updates from the Served Digizine Team 6 Farm to School for the Win! 8

Bring on the Morning! 22

the Month 23

ICN Resource of

Getting the most for our families with Healthy Meals at No Charge!

District Spotlight 24

LINQ’D UP Podcast 12

Homemade! 26

Pandemic Possibilities:

The Momologue 28 Monthly Served Editions Recap 30

The Synergy of Self-Care & Positivity for Motivation 14


IT Help Desk with Marlon & Brea

Your Dream Food Court is Possible! By Amtab 19 Take Three and, It’s Free! 20

Back-to-School: Civil Rights 32

The Policy Pulse with Lunch Assist:

NxtGen Network Breanna Gustafson

The Last Bite with Chef Sharon Schaefer 33

From Our Partners


Pg 2: LTI Pg 11: MyFundamentals Pg 13: Grow Your Business with Served

Pg 17: Calling All Contributors!

School Nutrition Collaborative

Pg 25: Titan, A LINQ Solution Pg 29: First Taste TV

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Co-Creators & Co-Editors Amanda & Marlon Say

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Well, it’s already been “broughten. . .” and it looks like you’re going to have to bring it again. COVID hasn’t gone away. Food is still hard to find.People can’t work. Some people don’t want to work. Did things get any better over the summer? That is a difficult question to answer. Some might say that things did get better because schools are open again but to me, looking from the outside in, it looks like things are just different. The constant we face is the virus. Last year we battled the virus virtually and had to come up with creative solutions to feed children like producing and creating more IW products. Then we had to find ways to serve the meals whether it was at bus stops, pick up locations at schools, and even home deliveries. This year our battlefront is closer to home because it’s actually at home and this requires different types of innovative solutions. We need to safely feed students in schools. We need to encourage people to work. It would also be nice if there was food out there that we could serve the kids. Oh, and if there was a way of getting the food to the districts. Can somebodyremindme againwhyK12gets the back seat so often? We’re talking about feeding children so they can continue their education fueled and healthy. So, they can become what is our future. I’m willing to even take it a step further and say that this could be a matter of national security. When the National School Lunch Act was signed by President Truman in 1946 because it was a concern that students

were too malnourished to serve in the military. What happens if there’s a conflict and we don’t have enough people to serve because they’re too overweight or starving? This is probably a little extreme, and an exaggeration, but the thought of our nation practically shutting down last year probably would have been a more extreme thought. At what point do we start prioritizing our children, our future, and ensure they are getting what they need? We need to take care of them because one day they’ll be taking care of us. I’m not smart enough to tell you what the solution is, but I do know it requires open minds and collaboration. I understand the financial benefits of focusing on retail over K12 but there must be a point where we focus on people. I know we want to provide the healthiest meals for children in schools, but let’s just get them meals. Too often it’s the only meal they get. This editorial was supposed to be encouraging and it went in a complete opposite direction. But I’m OK with that. You guys brought it last year and you CAN bring it again this year. There’s so much heart, passion, intelligence, and love in child nutrition that you can’t fail. All we have to do is endure a bit longer and have faith that things will get better because they will.

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| | Digital Editor Sarah Kolcheck

| | Co-Creator Co-Editor Amanda Venezia

| | Co-Creator Co-Editor Marlon Gordon

| | Co-Creator Creative Director Melissa Mayer

| | Assistant Editor Breanna Gustafson

Executive Assistant: Jennifer Savasta REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS: Stacy Cardinale | Chef Sharon Schaefer | Conor Doyle | Valerie Weivoda EDITION CONTRIBUTORS: Breanna Gustafson | Alison Powers, MBA, SNS | Jennifer Martin, MBA, CAE Jennifer McNeil, RDN, SNS | Amanda Venezia

& Contact: Articles & News: Ads: Parent Company:

- Marlon -

Served Digizine™ is a publication of First Taste TV and NxtGen Network. Served Digizine™ is releasedmonthly for a total of 12 issues annually. This publication is free of charge to our subscribers and can be opted-out at anytime. Copyright 2021 Served Digizine™, First Taste TV, and NxtGen Network. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part of any text, photograph, or illustration without written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited. Opinions and advertisements in themagazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent management views. The digizine is not responsible for unsolicitedmanuscripts and photographs, or any errors or omissions that might occur.

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

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All New Monthly Newsletter!

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At NxtGen Network we love connecting with others so we thought we’d start off this school year by doing something new. The NxtGen Newsletter is all about sharing the stories of those within our network. Whether you are an industry member and have something that will strengthen the operators and the programs we love to serve, or you are an operator and you do something exciting and/or inspiring, we want to share your story. But we’re more than story tellers. We believe for Child Nutrition to evolve we need to pour into each other which is why we will also be including an educational piece every month. This newsletter is all about making each other better, giving credit where it’s due, and strengthening the network so we can be the best we can be for children across the country.

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Food & Health Inspiration

Food & Health Inspiration


started crafting an early version of what would later turn into the 30% Incentive Program. NYSNA advocated for the incentive for the first time in October of 2015, and although the reimbursement rate did not increase that year, we did see $750,000 in grant money established to be awarded for assistance with farm to school efforts. So, we kept tweaking and kept asking. The following year there was so much interest in these programs that the grant money was increased to $1.5 million. Now that all of the pieces were coming together and the NYS budget was starting to reflect a greater interest in agriculture and the connection with schools, we just had to figure out what that selling point was going to be to convince them to finally increase those reimbursement rates. As it turns out, there were many other organizations advocating for NY agriculture in a variety of ways, and in 2017 these organizations came together and formed a coalition. The New York Grown Food for New York Kids is a coalition headed up by American Farmland Trust and is committed to increasing the availability of, and access to, healthy food grown in New York that is served to public schools across the state. As we geared up for NYSNA’s 2018 Legislative Action Conference, we now had nearly 70 school, food, farm, public health, economic development, environmental, and anti-hunger organizations and stakeholders throughout New York that supported the 30% program initiative. During our lobby day some of our partners, like American Farmland Trust, Farm Bureau, Hunger Solutions NY, NYS School Boards Association, and ASBO were at the table with us. Our message was clear - our kids need more locally grown food, and our farmers need our business! We pushed for the incentive program to help revitalize the economy, without being a tax credit or a handout. Guess what folks - we did it! We made history in New York State in 2018 when the Governor’s No Student Hungry Initiative included our 30% Incentive Program and was funded in the state budget with support from the legislature! Now that we had the money lined up, we next needed to get the districts on board.

Many of the coalition partners helped us encourage schools to participate and showcase the benefits of farm to school programs including: • Public health • Healthy food access • Economic impact and job creation • Student benefits: higher test scores, knowledge of agriculture, gardening, healthy eating, nutrition, etc. After the first year of the program, American Farmland Trust surveyed over 300 School Foodservice Authorities (SFAs) and published a report on their findings. Some key takeaways in their executive summary included: • While many schools saw 30% as a challenge, 49 SFAs applied to the New York State Education Department for the extra reimbursement claiming they reached 30% within just one year. This includes Buffalo Public Schools, the second largest district in the state. • 72% of schools felt optimistic that with the right support they would achieve 30% within five years. • Achieving this outcome would cause schools to spend nearly $150 million at New York farms over the next five years while increasing access to healthy, New York grown food for almost 700,000 K–12 students by 2024. • Conservatively, this would generate over $210 million in economic impact statewide while costing the state just over $94 million over the course of five years in reimbursement and support. Industry partners were also getting involved and were creating new products which would qualify for the incentive program as well. We are proud to have New York yogurt, string cheese, potato chips, french fries, grape juice, hot dogs, cider, granola, sausage – the list just keeps growing! In Year 2 we were all hit with this crazy pandemic that turned our world upside down. I’m sure everyone can attest to the fact that our districts were hit hard while everyone went into emergency feeding mode. It’s interesting to note that although

New York SNA Executive Director Jennifer Martin, MBA, CAE

New York State (NYS) is a leader in the nation with farm to school programs. We even have legislation in place to award districts financially which commit to serving the freshest foods possible to their students. The New York 30% Incentive Program is not only great for students, but this is also helping local farmers, the local economy, and even has a positive impact on the environment! So, what is this 30 % incentive? It is just that - an incentive. An incentive to encourage schools to buy foods that have been grown, raised and or processed in New York State. Basically, if 30% of the foods you purchase for reimbursable lunches come from NYS you will receive an additional 19 cents reimbursement per lunch in the following school year.

The New York School Nutrition Association (NYSNA) asked the state for an increase to the reimbursement rate for years and it was just not happening. The current NYS reimbursement rate is $0.06 per meal – and that has not changed in well over 40 years. Put it this way, the last time the reimbursement rate was increased the minimum wage was $2.65, Jimmy Carter was president, and a ticket to the original Star Wars movie was $2.23! And I do not need to remind all of you that food costs, in addition to supplies, labor, utilities, and staff benefits certainly has not remained stagnant during all of those many decades. Talk about an industry being forced to continuously do more with less, geez.


So, in 2015 we decided to get creative to find a way to get the money. What did we know?

• The state was not going to just hand out more money – there needed to be a give and take approach. • Farm to school was becoming increasingly popular (and NYS is a huge agriculture state). • Two of the members on our Public Policy and Legislation Committee were already working with local farmers within their districts to promote and support local agriculture. • NYS elected officials were heavily promoting “Buy New York”, “Support New York” type initiatives - including the Governor.

How did the 30% incentive come about?

Our committee connected the dots and met with the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets and then

Read On

This article was originally ran in June 2021 edition of Served. Article has been updated for this Back-To-School edition to include revised content.

Food & Health Inspiration

Throughout the state there are districts that showcase NY Thursdays, where districts strive to provide a meal created with all NY items. On Wayne Wednesdays all food service directors in Wayne County showcase local food from around the state. There are Junior Chef challenges, school gardens, farmers markets, bilingual cooking and gardening videos, and more. Even during a pandemic these programs have not slowed down. Directors have been finding ways to incorporate farm to school into the remote meals and even creating meal kits with recipes that families can make together. We also have a very passionate and active Farm to School Committee. The committee members contribute articles for our quarterly publication, Fresh Bites , with the most amazing stories, pictures, and videos. A couple of committee members wanted to share why farm to school is so important to them: “Farm to School is a win-win for students, farmers, and the community. I grew up on a farm and love working both on a district and state level to bring local fresh products to students as well as education on how food grows. Not only does it provide delicious food to students, it also opens them up to future interests and career opportunities.” Julie M. Raway, MPH, RDN, CDN, SNS, FAND, Registered Dietitian / Broome Tioga BOCES Food Services “Farm to school is a triple win. Through their purchasing power, schools have an incredible opportunity to foster economic growth for regional farmers and food producers. Win! Students have greater access to fresh, healthy food — something particularly important in communities that suffer from high rates of nutrition-related diseases. Win! Through education, the school community is afforded the opportunity to forge a deeper connection to the source of their food, hopefully cultivating a lifelong healthy relationship with food and agriculture. Win!” Cheryl Bilinski, Agricultural Economic Development Specialist, Cornell Cooperative Extension


the pandemic caused such a disruption, there were still schools that were actively striving for the 30% Incentive Program, and 62 SFAs applied in Year 2. Our goal is to see participation continue to grow each year, and we have the best possible partners advocating for the continuation of this program. There are so many resources available now to help districts and industry partners participate. Stay tuned to see how successful this program becomes for Years 3 and beyond! Our goal is to see participation continue to grow each year, and we have the best possible partners advocating for the continuation of this program. NYSNA actually just launched a special edition of our Fresh Bites Magazine – EVERYTHING NY 30% Incentive Program! It’s exactly what it sounds like – a collection of articles, videos, and podcasts all focused on the incentive program. Stay tuned to see how successful this program becomes for Years 3 and beyond! NYSNA Celebrates Farm to School

A Decision Support System for School Nutrition Program Management.


Let’s be real, it takes a lot of software and resources to run a school nutrition program. MyFUNDamentals interfaces with existing school nutrition and district finance software to deliver key performance indicators. Bringing together components of software products, like financials, POS, labor, and inventory, we can calculate meal equivalents, cost per meal, cost per labor hour, operating ratios, profit and loss, and all other key performance indicators.

MyFUNDamentals is essential for the success of your financial and operational program.

F2S Award Highlights

MyFUNDamentals provides transparency and accountability for all levels - from the cafeteria manager to the nutrition director. Putting performance measurements at your fingertips: Provides accountability Aids in good decision making for financial and operational success Increases knowledge base Results in increased financial solvency

Program Success Starts with MyFUNDamentals

Here in New York State, we love to celebrate Farm to School. Each year we partner with the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets for the Farm to School Partnership Awards! Some of the projects that have been created around the state are just so innovative and unique. From creative student taste testing events to farm to school food trucks, directors and partners are redefining the way we think of school meals.

Schedule an Introduction Today!

New York School Nutrition Association Executive Director Jennifer has been in association management since 2011 and the Executive Director of the New York School Nutrition Association since 2014. Under her leadership the NYSNA has been recognized for various achievements and has seen considerable growth. She is a national 40 under 40 award recipient, an amazing talent scout and an expert in the areas of administration, governance, iced coffee, and Harry Potter. Her keys to success can be summarized by the following phrases: “Work smarter, not harder;” “Be intentional;” and “Your Attitude Determines Your Altitude.” Jennifer Martin, MBA, CAE


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Brought to you by LINQ and NxtGen Network, LINQ’D UP is a podcast where the unsung everyday heroes of school districts share their stories and tips for success. Each episode features a candid, unscripted conversation about the life-defining moments and challenges we face at schools. Together, we connect IT Directors, Food Nutrition Professionals, and Administrators within districts to build a better tomorrow for students across the nation.

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Join Sally Nicholson (Food Service Director from Lexington One) and Christine Clarahan , (Food Service Director from School City of Hammond) as they discuss the perils of mental health as it relates to leadership and their tips to help overcome self-doubt. For our first episode, we’re broadcasting live at the LINQ’D UP event where we honor Lunchroom Rockstars across the nation.

You’ve Been Served is a video series that will be distributed in Served Digizine as well as social media. The purpose is to highlight the positive and innovative things school districts are doing, to educate the viewers, and continue to mold the perception of what school food really is.


We all know that the past year transformed our education system. But our educators are no stranger to change as they’ve incurred significant shifts over the past decade. So much in fact that schools may not be what some of us remember from our own childhood! In this episode of LINQ’D UP, Jennifer Warren (Principal of Pine View Middle School) and Susan Fischer (Retired Elementary School Teacher) discuss how they’ve adapted over time to the current needs of our students.

Shout-out: 15 - 30 second commercial before, during, or after the episode Sponsored Episode: A video up to 15-minutes in length with school/director inclusion and testimonials. A sizzle reel for social media sharing Professional 2-Camera multi-angle shoot with one host Pre-shoot creative call with creative team Once aired you will have access to share/promote as you prefer Inclusion in the First Taste TV channel and scheduled release on social media

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We’ve Got Your Back

We’ve Got Your Back

parameters is a way to staymentally healthy and make measurable change. You have permission to let things go that are out of your control to focus on areas you can truly make a difference.

and inspiration for an impact beyond yourself. The synergistic effect of positivity is how culture change begins.

SELF -CARE & POSITIVITY The Synergy of for Motivation

It all starts with you! To be motivated at work, we must take care of ourselves first. Self- care is particularly difficult for service- minded professionals who perpetually put themselves last. Start with the basics to bring your best self to work.

2. Remove Animosity and Bitterness

It is extremely easy to place blame and harbor animosity and bitterness toward others during difficult times. In the supply chain of any industry, each aspect is essential for a timely and accurate outcome. If one piece of the supply chain is unavailable, the whole system breaks down.This is the flowof our current supply chain environment impacting all industries. Repeated issues build anger and resentment creating a divide in our professional network. This cycle of

JTM Food Group Alison Powers, MBA, RDN

4. #Self-Care to Be Your Best Self

negativity and blame is counterproductive working against our collaborative nature. Keep open lines of communication to combat unnecessary confusion. There is no such thing as too much communication.

Congratulations, you made it through School Year 2020-2021. That must be the most challenging school year, and everything is downhill from here, right?! While we’ve survived a school year during a global pandemic, we may never return to “normal”– if that was ever a thing? The long-term consequences of an economic shut down and systematic reopening are impacting our daily lives. The pandemic buzzwords are a part of everyday vocabulary including new normal, supply chain, economic recovery, unprecedented, and pivot. We are beyond a pandemic phase and have officially entered a new season of our lives. It’s hard to keep motivated when there never seems to be a break.

fighting the food insecurity battle serving our students.Whether you’re a food service operator, state agency representative, or industry partner, we are all feeling the pain of a difficult back to school season. It is so easy to get fixated on the problems and miss the solutions. What can we do to motivate ourselves and our teams despite the ever- present conflict and turmoil around.

Live Healthy A healthy lifestyle includes a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and managing stress. See Friends Fellowship and connection are important for a sense of belonging. Maintain healthy relationships for a strong support system.


3.Remember Your Why

Do Something You Enjoy Every Day Identify activities you enjoy that d not outcome driven for a fun, creative outlet. This might mean dancing, watching a favorite TV show, gardening, painting, reading, etc. Find Ways to Relax Decompress from a stressful day by journaling, meditation, yoga, taking a walk, etc.

The burnout is real! When your rope is fraying due to burnout, it is easy to forget the reasons why you entered the field foodservice management in the first place. We are all service-minded and enjoy seeing the fruits of our labors impact our students, schools, and communities. Beyond that, each of us has individual reasons why we go to work every day. Remember those motivators and capitalize on them to refresh your mood and mindset. Your mood is contagious, both

Where Do We Go from Here?

Now is the time where we lean into our professional network for camaraderie, inspiration, and teamwork. No one can offer you support and understanding better than your fellow colleague in the trenches. We’re all

1. Recognize Your Span of Control

negative and p o s i t i v e . Share your mo t i va t i on

There are so many things outside of our control. Our time, energy, and attention are incredibly valuable assets. Wasting energy fixating on areas we cannot control is futile. Recognizing our span of control and working within those

Read On

We’ve Got Your Back


Self-care means something different to each person. The point is to remain centered and grounded to mitigate the harmful effects of stress. We are not our jobs and our personal health and wellbeing take precedence.

Keeping mentally strong and motivated is the only way to persevere through the latest logistical hurdles. “ Wishing everyone a safe and happy School Year 2021-2022! Keeping mentally strong and motivated is the only way to persevere through the latest logistical hurdles. Now is the time to emulate the School Lunch Hero to the fullest! Now is our time to continue showing up for our students! They are depending on us to serve nutritious meals and be the smiling face they need. First, take care of you, so we can take care of our nation’s children.

We Want YOUR Voice in

Think about all we’ve accomplished in the last school year making history! • For the first time ever, Child Nutrition has been recognized on a global level earning national acclaim. • We redefined what it means to be a frontline worker. • Our families finally got to see the nutritious meals being served to their students due to take-home meals. • Thanks to universal free meals, financial barriers to serving students are no longer an issue. • We have the best opportunity to make lasting change for our students through the USDA Federal Programs.

Have a story that needs to be told? Click HERE to request our contributor spec sheet!


All New Social Group! A Place for Everyone!

K-12 Collaborative is an open space designed to share ideas, promote your program and suggest solution based products. Let’s color outside of the lines and think beyond the box. We proudly promote collaboration between school nutrition operators as well as industry members. Companies across the country are constantly creating high value resources and they employ ingenious minds. Let’s harness the power of these expert stakeholders to feed hungry children. Welcome to the next generation of social collaboration.

Mental Health America (2021). Taking Good Care of Yourself. Retrieved:

Alison is a Registered Dietitian and Regional Sales Manager for J.T.M. Food Group serving K-12 Schools throughout the Midwest. Prior to joining the K-12 Foodservice sales, she worked in clinical nutrition, healthcare, school foodservice, and food manufacturing. Alison’s favorite part of her job is supporting school districts with professional development, recipe and menu ideation, and strategic planning utilizing USDA Foods. She is collaborative with a strong presence on social media and not-for-profit organizations including state SNA organizations and American Commodities and Distribution Association (ACDA). Alison Powers, MBA, RDN Midwest Regional Sales Manager for JTM Food Group

Things we welcome:

Questions/Problems/Issues Ads Recipes Self Promotion

Conversation Photos Collaboration

Promotional Graphics Food Puns!!! Leadership Development

When we say we’re passionate about school nutrition, we mean it.

AmTab has been working side-by-side with nutrition directors for the last twenty plus years to help them create their food court dream. Being able to walk into a brand new cafeteria with improved furniture and wall designs drastically helps improve the experience. Making your food court a destination rather than just another space that students go to is very important. A modern, popular, and fun food court does not have to consist of a huge budget, but it does require you to realize that your dream food court is possible . In terms of Your Dream Food Court is Possible! budgeting a new food court may seem unrealistic, but I am here to tell you that spacing your project out makes a huge difference. Adding a few tables in the fall, a few booths in the spring, some wall designs the following year and so forth. That way it’s much friendlier on your budget. The impact from modernizing your food court consists of happier students, increased participation in breakfast/lunch programs & re-energized staff. Take the very first step in creating a modern, popular, and fun food court.




Marlon & Brea are here to help with all of your

IT, software, and marketing needs!

To kickoff the new school year, we’re discussing two hot topics, marketing challenges and software. We want to hear from you!


Q. What’s on your software wish list? SOFTWARE


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

Q. What are some of the current marketing challenges you’re facing?

Submit Questions Here!

Submit Questions Here!

HELP! ! ! ! !

HELP! ! ! ! !

SEPTEMBER Marketing question

Conor Doyle Digital Marketing Specialist, AmTab Manufacturing

He is actively involved in the school nutrition company who helps provide valuable insight on café modernization projects across the country.

https://vimeo. com/592697426/ b376433b64

Q. What is the most efficient program and way to upload video content so that I can get the proper aspect ratio on social media? Submitted by Pasco County Schools, FL

Conor’s 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 Here!

Marketing Minute

Marketing Minute

home with a milk, fruit, and vegetables. Now, we see more and more districts offering this to students who bring their lunches from home. This introduces them to the wonders and school meals and our opportunity to create a lifelong customer to our cafeteria. There are different ways of marketing this concept to students and families. We asked school nutrition professionals across the country how they were communicating this concept and how it’s working out:

I just love it when schools adopt trendy concepts that we see at some our favorite cafes or restaurants. If you’re like me, one choice is never enough and I will forever pick two, three, four, or more choices to add variety to my meal. A few years ago when I was working as the Marketing Supervisor for Food & Nutrition Services in Lee County, FL we launched a marketing campaign called “Lettuce Help with Lunch” to maximize participation. As a 100% CEP district long before students nationwide received meals at no charge we gave students the option to compliment their lunches from

Here’s what they had to say…

Martin County, FL Laura Holmedal, Director of Food & Nutrition tXjokJePZ9w

“Promoting this has saved our program money. We ended up with over a 4 million dollar fund balance while most schools unfortunately went into the red.”

Waverly, NY Joanne Shabazian “We call ours a “sidekick” and we let the teachers know it is available (plus it’s noted on our menu).”

Lee County Schools, MS Valerie Weivoda, Director of Child Nutrition

NxtGen Network A natural storyteller, Breanna Gustafson is the Director of Marketing for NxtGen Network. Breanna kicked off her career in journalism as an Assignment Editor at WCVB-TV in Boston and worked in public television on Cape Cod. Her undergraduate degree is in communications, film, and media studies. In 2018, Breanna filled the first ever Marketing Supervisor position for Food & Nutrition at Lee County Schools in Florida. Breanna has her Master’s Degree in New Media & Marketing and enjoys telling the brand stories of school districts and manufacturers across the country. Breanna Gustafson Child nutrition at Lee County Schools, MS have implemented a Lunch Box Helpers Program: “We have gotten more vegetarians to eat with us too because everyone thought you HAD to get the entree (and most entrees have a meat).” At the beginning of the year, we issued a letter to parents via every school social media page; our district webpage; and the elementary schools sent the home with students in their backpacks. It explained free meals and the Lunch Box Helpers Program.”

Getting the most for our families with Healthy Meals at No Charge!

NxtGen Network Breanna Gustafson

September is National Food Safety Education Month!

NxtGen Network/Director of Dining Services, NH Amanda Venezia Morning!

Keep ‘em Operating


A few other gems of note: • “(The morning) has the least amount of external things trying to shape and mold me.” • I get to “define and decide who I am going to be that morning.” • “I can control how I respond to (adversity and how people) react to me.” Okay, PQ! I hear you. I have to embrace this time just after the dawn. I’m open to it. Let’s see how it goes. Who’s with me? Let’s set our alarms for this month some minutes earlier and participate in some mindfulness, setting our intentions for the day and establishing who we will be. Here’s what is on my agenda: 5:40am: Alarm set 5:46am: Snooze goes off (actually get out of bed) 5:47am: Brush teeth. While brushing read today’s devotional in “Live with Grace. Walk with Love” by Bob Goff 5:49am: 5 minute meditation with Headspace 5:55am: Write 3 gratitudes. 6:00am: Take a deep breathe and get ready to slay the day! I think PQ would agree. This is a winning combination. Email us at . Share your morning routine or how you set yourself up for success in the AM.

I am NOT a morning person. I love to sleep. My husband tells me that it is my superpower. So, given the opportunity to sleep in on a weekend or get out of the warm cocoon of my weighted blanket, I will definitely take Option number TWO. So, waking up to my alarm at 6am each weekday is completely against my biological desires. After two snoozes, I grudgingly start my day. In the fog of my early hours, I am resentful and exhausted as my bed beckons my return. My favorite leadership podcast is forcing me to rethink my nature and embrace the morning. Mark Q is a Florida pastor who hosts a 10 minute podcast on leadership “from ministry to the marketplace.” In episode 40, Pastor Q talks about managing crisis throughout your day and a key tool being “Mastering the Morning.” Yes, I have heard multiple times that we are most clear headed in the morning. In the AM is when we ought to make major decisions when we have the most neurons firing at full speed. What is it about the morning specifically that makes it so magical? PQ says, “It is void of external pressures or external circumstances that are starting to mold and shape who I am. So, if I can get really stable and confident in the morning…Before things try to tell me who I’m not or people try to, then I am just going to be stronger throughout the day.” Okay, makes sense we set the intention for the day and before the “shoulds” start to cloud your mind. So, I decide who I want to be, how I am going to respond to adversity, and I’m good?

September is National Food Safety Education Month! The Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) has a large selection of food safety resources available for school nutrition. Our food safety resources cover a variety of topics including cleaning and sanitizing, employee health and personal hygiene, food allergies, food recalls, time and temperatures control, and much more.

Free Resources!

These NO COST resources can be found in a variety of formats including: • Face-to-Face Trainings • Virtual Group Trainings • Virtual Instructor Lead Trainings (VILTs) • iLearn Online Courses • Training Tools • Fact Sheets • Posters • Videos All of ICN’s resources are available completely FREE. You will find the complete list of resources at home page. The Food Safety Resources are conveniently provided at . offers COVID-19 related resources from ICN, CDC, USDA, and other organizations. All of these no cost resources are available for download. You can find ICN’s Spanish resources at , including food safety for schools. Subscribe to ICN newsletters and resource update emails here!



Watch the latest STARWebinar: Back-to- School: Preparing to Pivot with a Food Safety Focus! This one-hour webinar provides insight into all the food safety resources available to you at NO COST from ICN. You can earn a Continuing Education Unit (CEU) for completion of this webinar by watching here on this page or you can enroll in the course on .

Headspace Pro-tip: Headspace is free to educators and SUPPORT STAFF! Go to HERE for more information!

X with Q Leadership Podcast In times of uncertainty and ack of control, it’s important to “master the morning.” Be careful of what or who you allow to define each day!

Live in Grace Walk in Love by Bob Goff On Amazon Here!


https://vimeo. com/592931789

Co-Founder, NxtGen Network/Director of Dining Services, Londonderry, NH Amanda has been a restaurant and hospitality professional for over 15 years and is on her 10th year rocking school lunch as Director of Dining Services in Londonderry, New Hampshire. A wife, mom, and Vlogger, Amanda shares her passion for school nutrition speaking at national conferences and training professionals on front of the house and business operations but don’t discount her proficiency and creativity in the kitchen. Her love of social media marketing has put her small New England district on the map and she has won such awards as this year’s FoodService Director Magazine 2019 Rising Star. Amanda Venezia

Download The App So You Can iLearn On-The Go!

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

DISTRICT spotlight

Nutrition Coordinator Registered Dietitian Flour Bluff ISD, Texas Brittany Buchanan Garcia, RDN

Are you prepared for the 2021-2022 school year?



We created our social media pages back in Fall of 2019. We used it a lot during the pandemic to communicate with the community about our curbside and meal changes but I always envisioned it to be bigger than that. When we found out that we would be going back to full face- to-face instruction I got so excited! I knew this would be my opportunity to get our photos that showed what we had to offer out there to the parents and students. My goal as a K-12 Registered Dietitian is to help remove the stigma behind school lunches and to make waves in Child Nutrition! Here are a few trays of our meal offerings this year. So far we’ve introduced a fewnew items including anAsian Salad and our Bistro Box. We’re also excited because we are taking part

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of the extension of the Summer Program in order to provide meals to all of our students at no charge! We are hoping we can reach more students this year and expand our program even more.

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Food & Health Inspiration

pages. I’m staying present on everyone’s news feed. I post signage on our serving line advertising homemade items, because I want our students and teachers to know when my staff are going the extra mile. There is so much you can do to market your program. I know one child nutrition department that has

Pandemic Possibilities: Homemade! Self-Proclaimed Recipe Concoctor Valerie Weivoda, MS, RD, LD, SNS

Show, Don’t Tell!

Make Pizza with Us!

Talking about scratch cooking and homemaking food in the middle of a pandemic when most are short staffed will get you some eye rolls, but what do you do when the convenience items you leaned on are being shorted on your delivery truck? What do you do when your delivery doesn’t show up on time? What do you do with commodities knocking down your freezer walls with nowhere to go? You have to figure it out, right? Well, in all this “figuring-out”that I’ve been doing, I’ve discovered a few things. One of those things is that we’re going to have to homemake and scratch cook foods to get us through these commodity- overload and lack-of-hamburger-bun days.

pizza since before I came into the district. My goal is to get more of my other schools doing it. Now I know it sounds scary, and you’re thinking, how would my staff have time for this? Yes, it is a little more work. Yes, it does taste that much better. The benefit? When your frozen pizza doesn’t get delivered, you can still have pizza on the menu! Let me show you. Watch the video (right) to see Saltillo High School homemake pizza for 350 customers every Friday with 3.5 employees. For our gluten free customers, we purchase GF dough! We homemake our pizza sauce and ranch dressing, too. :)

recently started a TikTok page.

I encourage you to be present on social media, e s p e c i a l l y now when our students


are learning and living in a more virtual world than you did before them. Staying relevant can boost participation more than you realize. I encourage you to homemake pizza next time you find out that pizza is being shorted from your delivery. You won’t regret it!

To amp up support for our program, I started an I n s t a g r a m page for the department so we can market the amazing

Am I saying you have to scratch cook rolls, again? No. But what do you do when pizza is served everyFridayand suddenly you’re living in a pandemic where pizza is unavailable for purchase and there are no substitutions? What if you don’t have a nearby company that can service you pizza or what if you can’t afford it?

xoxo Gal Pal Val

things we’re doing. Saltillo High School had been homemaking pizza for years and NO ONE knew! It hurt my soul that they were putting work that no one knew about. There are so many awesome things we do that our customers have never been aware of because it simply wasn’t told to them. That isn’t their fault. Directors, it’s our responsibility to tell our program’s story. I send pictures, flyers and videos to our media specialist to post on all district social media platforms. I make Instagram reels and fun graphics using free apps on my phone. I send information to my principals who can post on their school specific FaceBook

Valerie Weivoda, MS, RD, LD, SNS Child Nutrition Department Director, Lee County School District (MS) 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.

If your students are like mine, pizza is

one of your highest participation days, and let’s be honest, you need the participation. One of my high schools has been homemaking their

Written by a Mom? Yes. Something for Everyone? Also Yes.

Did you miss an episode of First Taste TV Season Two? No problem! You can go back and watch all of the episodes at anytime by clicking on the cover below!

It’s SEPTEMBER! Life is starting to pick up the pace, so let’s take some time to SLOW DOWN.

Hopefully school is back in full session (and stays that way for all our sake’s!!!). Maybe you’re returning to an office setting, and your social/extracurricular calendars may actually be filling up! This means we’re all about to be very BUSY! As parents, and let’s face it, adults in general, life moves FAST! While you’re balancing your (and everyone else’s) schedules, running your households, and doing all the things for all the people I’d like to remind you to slow down, breathe, adjust, and NEVER forget about the most important person, YOU! Yes, I’m talking about SELF-CARE!!! It goes along with

the idea that you need to put your oxygen mask on before helping others. You can’t be your best, or even close to it, without making sure that you’re good first. SELF-CARE is a huge component of your overall health and should be taken seriously. You may be thinking that prioritizing your wellbeing is selfish, you may even feel guilty, but not only is it absolutely the opposite of selfish, it’s essential! It can take on so many forms and will be different for everyone, but the bottom line is that it’s necessary to do something just for yourself, even just the smallest of things.


• Go for a walk • Take a bath • Indulge in a good book • Go to bed early • Meditate • Practice yoga (try a restorative class, changed my life!) • Lock yourself in the bathroom to just sit and breathe • Stay in • Say “no” • Forgive yourself

• Paint • Journal • Dance • Garden

Some self-care practices that are sure to fill up your cup (and by cup I mean your proverbial wine glass, hehe!):

• Binge a TV show • Get dressed up • Buy yourself flowers (you totally deserve the prettiest ones!) • Wear those comfy pants, all day • Organize a girls night • Call a friend

It can truly be anything that allows you to prioritize yourself and that makes you feel good. Like my friends on TikTok would say “Sitting in a parking lot, by yourself, eating fries, is ELITE self-care” and that’s totally my speed!

As parents we’re always putting ourselves on the back burner and this is your permission slip to DO YOU!! You are deserving, you are worthy, you are amazing. Now go TREAT YO SELF!

Hi. I’m Stacy. I ammany things, including but not limited to, a mom, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a creator, an amazing lip-syncer, an empath, and an overall good time. I have an MBA from Southern New Hampshire University and I enjoy painting, photography, drinking wine, eating french fries, and crafting. I have been married for 10 years (cocktail please!!) and together we have made two amazing humans (another cocktail please!!). Our son Anthony (7) and our daughter Sloan (4) have non-stop energy and in the rare instance they are not talking they are eating all the snacks. I am typically the “go-to” person for my friends who are seeking advice, a non-judgmental ear, perspective, a good venting session, or even just a hug (I am also a master hugger). I believe that human connection is of the utmost importance and that kindness is cool.

Stacy Cardinale

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