The UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program and Fresno Unified School District Food Services Department began implementation of the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement (SLM) in 9 elementary schools starting during the 2017-2018 school year. SLM is dedicated to providing schools with the knowledge, motivation, and resources needed to build a lunchroom environment that encourages healthy food choices as the easy choice. Through shared efforts, over 6,000 students were impacted. Below are summaries of each school that participated in SLM during the 2017-2018 school year.
Ayer Elementary- Silver Award
Ayer's student council, led by 6th-grade teacher Mr. Villanueva, headed the SLM project. The council's main priority was coming up with creative names for lunch menu items. Some of their ideas included fiesta salad, fresh tropical tangy fruit, and big and bold broccoli. To give more students an opportunity to participate in SLM implementation, UC CalFresh held an SLM booth at the spring carnival, where students could create Fruit and Veggie-of-the-Day cards, sign thank you cards for School Lunch Hero Day, and draw artwork for the cafeteria. Different grade levels were also given the opportunity to contribute original artwork to the lunchroom cafeteria.
Molly S. Bakman Elementary - Silver Award
UC CalFresh worked with the principal, Melissa Jones, and cafeteria manager, Gracie Garcia, to implement changes to the cafeteria space. UC CalFresh coordinator Tacu Vang helped provide the technical assistance needed to guide staff to create a healthier cafeteria environment for the students by providing signs and decals promoting healthy options. He also helped find resources for the school to hang a MyPlate banner that was unused. Bakman showed a six-point improvement by the end of the year, putting the school in the silver SLM category. This was a big improvement and reinforced the commitment the school made to creating a healthier environment for students.
Birney Elementary - Silver Award
Birney Elementary had a successful second year of SLM implementation. The lunchroom environment was further enhanced with the addition of new colorful nutrition posters and a nutrition corner that were changed bi-monthly. Students mentioned they looked forward to the nutrition corners and seeing their artwork displayed. Birney cafeteria staff regularly utilized the menu board to highlight both breakfast and lunch items. At the end of the year, the final scorecard showed a six-point improvement to the lunchroom through the use of creative and descriptive names on menu items. UC CalFresh hopes to increase student involvement by including suggestions of creative and descriptive names, renaming the lunchroom, providing feedback, and continuing to use student artwork.
Homan Elementary - Silver Award
This year UC CalFresh Coordinator, Nora Lopez, had the opportunity to work with Irma Rodriguez, Homan's Elementary cafeteria manager. In the first visit to the cafeteria back UC CalFresh staff was surprised Irma was still using a My Pyramid poster; she loved the pictures and bright colors the poster provided for the students. UC CalFresh let her know MyPlate was the most current guide to eating healthy. A Nutrition Corner was placed in the teachers' lounge using MyPlate to get her on board. After teaching nutrition lessons, adding a nutrition corner, and the Smarter Lunchroom concept was introduced, Irma began incorporating MyPlate and removed the My Pyramid poster. Irma welcomed SLM with open arms. Next school year's goals include working with the student club and the after-school program to create nutrition posters and creative names for the school menu. Irma is hard working, paying attention to students' comments and needs and is a valued contributor to SLM.
Lowell Elementary - Silver Award
With the students' exposure to nutrition education, SLM was a great way to reinforce the message of making healthier choices. Emily Leung, cafeteria manager, was very supportive of having the posters and stickers in clear visual areas, as well as making sure white milk was more visible than chocolate milk. Teachers and staff encouraged students to eat or try their fruits and vegetables during lunch time. UC Calfresh will continue to connect with Emily on improving their scorecard next year. UC Calfresh plans to connect with Lowell's student council group to build a health coalition to increase student involvement in the lunchroom. Overall, Lowell scored a total of 31 out of 60, earning them in a silver award.
McCardle Elementary - Silver Award
Headed by the lunchroom manager Sherie Jackson, McCardle's SLM had a successful first year. Nutrition and physical activity reinforcement posters and decals were posted in the cafeteria to liven up the environment and create healthy food “advertisements”. These posters, in conjunction with a MyPlate Nutrition Corner, sought to encourage students to consume more fruits and vegetables, and participate in physical activity. McCardle saw a three-point improvement through their interventions over the year. Improvements included placing a clear traffic pattern with the use of decals and footprints, identifying 1% or non-fat white milk as the featured milk, and displaying attractive and healthful posters in the cafeteria and service area. Next year McCardle will incorporate student leadership and school spirit to create nutrition and physical activity art contests that will be displayed in the cafeteria.
Robinson Elementary - Silver Award
UC CalFresh worked with the Cafeteria Manager to implement healthy food messaging by putting up a menu board displaying the meal-of-the-day, and fruit/vegetable-of-the-day cards both using creative names. They also increased the visibility of white milk in the coolers and included healthier food messaging to make the dining experience fun and enjoyable; improving students chances of consuming healthier meals. Student artwork was also placed in the cafeteria to make the students a part of the lunchroom experience. Students are excited to see their artwork in the lunchroom and the relationships between students and cafeteria staff have improved due to encouragement from school students and staff. To finish off the year, UC CalFresh partnered with the teachers to create thank you cards for the lunchroom staff from students to show their appreciation for the hard work done all year long.
Rowell Elementary - Silver Award
The students of the Rowell Elementary Spirit Club began the process of revamping their lunchroom through the SLM. Under the support and guidance of their school's Nutrition Educator, Ashley Abrahamson, and teacher Erica Alarcon the students created fun and creative names for lunch menu items. Since the Rowell mascot is the Rockets, the students unanimously agreed to maintain a space theme for both food items and their newly chosen cafeteria name. The spirit club voted on a new cafeteria sign that is now posted on the Space Station entry, filled the lunchroom with artwork created by their peers at a poster party, and hosted a grand opening celebration where Spirit Club students welcomed their friends to the Space Station as they entered for lunch.
Vang Pao Elementary - Silver Award
Smarter Lunchrooms at Vang Pao has been an essential addition to the school's healthy environment. Nutrition educator, Coraima Linares, led the improvements and successes at Vang Pao which included: adding healthy posters throughout the cafeteria along with updating the Nutrition Corner and keeping it well maintained. Another success noted was how the school made white milk the first choice and at least a third of the cooler, which earned them an extra point on their final scorecard. The goals for next year are to include students to help with maintenance and creativity of the cafeteria, incorporate the cafeteria manager as a role model to guide improvements, add creative descriptions to lunch menu items and rename the lunchroom. Coraima also plans to focus on identifying a champion teacher or student in the upcoming school year to support SLM.
If you would like a Smarter Lunchrooms technical assisting professional to visit your Fresno Unified elementary school please contact project coordinator Evelyn Morales at email@example.com./h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>
- Author: Evelyn Morales
UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program and Fresno Unified Nutrition Center are partnering up again this year to create healthier environments for students. This year's projects were presented to FUSD Kitchen Managers on July 27th during their beginning of the year training.
The OrganWise Guys
Fresno Unified will be rolling out a new project this year that will impact each of its elementary schools: The OrganWise Guys. Nath Say, UC CalFresh Program Supervisor, presented information on The Organ Wise Guys to Fresno Unified staff, detailing key messages and resources schools can use. UC CalFresh educators will be encouraging teachers who want to further their students' nutrition education to check out their school's OrganWise Guys Doll Kit.
Check out our other OrganWise Guys blog post!
Smarter Lunchrooms Kick Off for Elementary Schools
This year, UC CalFresh and Fresno Unified will be working together to implement the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement in 22 elementary schools. UC CalFresh's main focus will be to assist with new visuals, such as posters and menu boards, which will enhance the lunchroom environment and encourage students to choose and consume healthier foods. UC CalFresh Educators will also serve as resources for schools who want to build a healthier lunchroom and school environment.
Check out our other Smarter Lunchrooms Movement blog posts!
Stay tuned to see our progress throughout the year!/h3>/h2>/span>/h2>
- Author: Mishelle Petit
- Editor: Emily Harris
The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement is a national movement that focuses on improving a school's lunchroom environment to promote healthy eating behaviors amongst the students. Even small, low-cost/ no-cost solutions can have a big impact!
Have a blank wall in your cafeteria? Let UC CalFresh fill it with an educational Nutrition Corner! Take a look at the difference it's made at Birney Elementary.
This wall now features a Nutrition Corner highlighting the importance of eating fruits and vegetables, and the health benefits of each color!
Another empty space became an opportunity to emphasize MyPlate and healthy snack choices!
Even the milk carts are encouraging students to drink milk and eat healthy foods!
The blank wall above the water fountain is a great opportunity to encourage students to choose water instead of sugary beverages.
While finishing up in the cafeteria, UC CalFresh nutrition staff Evelyn Morales and Mishelle Petit were able to hear the reactions of students as they saw their updated cafeteria for the first time. Many students were quickly able to point out the new MyPlate images in their cafeteria. Some comments included:
"Hey look, it's MyPlate!"
"Wow, it's like Christmas!"
"MyPlate shows you healthy foods."
While returning to Birney Elementary to teach the lesson, "Choosing Healthy Snacks and Beverages," I asked students if they ever thought about how much sugar is in some of their favorite drinks. Students from almost every class eagerly raised their hands to share that they learned a soda has 8 teaspoons of sugar from the poster in the cafeteria. This goes to show that small changes can make a big difference!
If you have questions on the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement, please click here.
- Author: Evelyn Morales
- Editor: Emily Harris
What does it mean to be healthy?
This was the question asked of 120 incoming high school freshmen attending the Summer Bridge Program* for Bullard High in Fresno, California.
In the first of the two sessions, students received EatFit workbooks and learned about setting goals and how to take steps to achieve their goals. Students were able to practice goal setting and develop major and minor fitness goals. In the second session, students were split up into groups and visited multiple stations, each pertaining to different nutrition topics. Stations exposed students to label reading with grains, protein, and sugar-based drinks.
At the final station, we sat down with students and asked them to respond to the following questions:
Is being healthy important to you?
Out of the 90 responses we received, 80 students (89%) responded, "Yes," it was important for them and 10 students (11%) responded, "No," it was not important to them.
We also asked: What does it mean to be healthy?
Being Healthy: 41%
"Being healthy means eating the right foods and getting good exercise."
This was the most common response from the students. Answers from this category consisted of students making better food choices, eating less junk food, being active, living a long, happy life and having a well-balanced life. Students also mentioned aspirations to travel and meet career goals as motivation to be healthy.
Playing Sports: 18%
"To play sports such as soccer, football, track, and cross country."
This group was made up of students who said being healthy meant doing well in sports and being physically fit. Most mentioned sports they currently play or sports teams they hope to be a part of in high school.
It's not important to be healthy: 11%
"Being healthy at an old age is important, but at a young age not necessarily."
Most of the students in this group answered by generally saying they didn't care about being healthy or that they felt it wasn't important to worry about being healthy right now. In one response, a student mentioned that it was important to take care of your body, but not until old age.
"[So] you don't end up in the hospital sooner."
These students made a connection between being healthy and getting sick or developing a disease. Students talked about wanting to live a healthy life and not wanting to end up in the hospital. The most common diseases mentioned by students included high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer.
"Being healthy is having a good body."
Ten percent of students mentioned weight status and fat in relation to being healthy. Most responses included students making a weight loss goal or wanting to lose weight.
"If I am healthy, I get to live longer and spend more time with my family"
Students also mentioned their family and their families' health as the definition of being healthy. Some students mentioned helping their family make healthy choices while others talked about not wanting their family to get sick.
What does this information tell us as nutrition educators?
In this small sample, most incoming freshmen were able to say,"yes, being healthy is important," along with a reason why it was important to them. So what does that information mean to us as nutrition educator's? It actually leads to another question: what can we do to help high school students reach their goals for healthy living? Perhaps this is the first of many conversations we need to have with students in this age group. This is also good information for Fresno Unified School District and the UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program as we embark on our second year of implementing the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement district wide. In the fall we will be diving into high school campuses and cafeterias. How can we provide the best information and resources to help students reach their goals to live healthy lives? Personally speaking, I'm excited to head into the uncharted waters of the high school campuses for the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement. This can be an opportunity where our UC CalFresh team can impact students and the way they think about health.
What do you think it means to be healthy? Let us know in the comment section below.
*The Summer Bridge program provides resources for students who could benefit from additional support in the transition from middle school to high school. The UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program worked with Bullard High counselors to teach lessons from the EatFit curriculum to students attending the summer session.
- Author: Emily Harris
- Contributor: Evelyn Morales
Developed out of Cornell University, the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement (SLM) seeks, “to equip school lunchrooms with evidence-based tools that improve child eating behaviors and thus improve the health of children.” This year Fresno Unified School District embarked on its second year of a five-year plan to bring the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement to every school in the district.
What's for lunch? Look no further than the Tomahawk Cafe menu board.
Presentation goes a long way to make healthy foods appealing to students.
Nutrition education can take place in the cafeteria.
The Fresno Unified Nutrition Center partnered with UC CalFresh and the Dairy Council to implement SLM in all 16 middle schools this school year. Smarter Lunchrooms Manager, Danette Whitfield, took charge of assessing schools to amplify their strengths and identify opportunities for improvement based on the SLM scorecard system. District Supervisor, Morgan Terry, and District Registered Dietician, Amanda Harvey, took lead on meeting with administration and food service staff at each site to get them on board for the changes that would take place.
UC CalFresh's contributions to this movement included staff training and indirect nutrition education through improved lunchroom signage. All schools received revamped Welcome Posters, Lunch Menus and Menu Item Cards, all created to reflect nutritional information while incorporating school spirit, colors and mascots.
The real success came with the partnership and open-communication between the food service staff at each school site and the nutrition center management staff. As a result of the positive environmental changes adopted over the course of the school year, all 16 of the middle schools reached Gold status, which is the highest level on the SLM scorecard.
Fresno Unified has taken its first major steps to implement one of the largest Smarter Lunchrooms Movement's in the state by making these changes district-wide. There are always challenges to overcome when having the 4th largest school district in California, but the success seen in the 2015-2016 school year is just the beginning of the amazing changes we will see in Fresno Unified over the next few years.