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How one school nutrition professional is building community on Instagram

Angela Gomez uses the concept of reduce, reuse and recycle to engage Laveen School District students and parents on social media.
Close up of the Instagram logo on a phone
Photo: Shutterstock

Scrolling through the Instagram account for Laveen School District’s nutrition team reveals bright, colorful photos of what’s for lunch at the Laveen, Ariz., district, along with a behind-the- scenes look at how certain menu items are made.

The account is the work of Angela Gomez, Laveen’s nutritionist. Gomez believes that Instagram—and social media in general—is a great tool that often goes underutilized by school nutrition teams.

“I see [Instagram] as being a really important platform to kind of show what school food really is and to highlight the important work of cafeteria workers,” she says. “There’s so much opportunity to be creative, promote our programs and increase participation and just really build community through social media.”

While some school nutrition managers and administrators send over photos and video, most of the content that makes its way to Laveen’s Instagram comes directly from Gomez’s phone.

Reduce, reuse and recycle

When deciding what to post, Gomez says she sticks to the age-old concept of reduce, reuse and recycle.

With reducing, Gomez says she works to reduce the amount of unoriginal content on Instagram and instead tries to post something fun and unique. “Sometimes I see a lot of posts about like micronutrients, vitamins and minerals, and people don't always know what to do with that information when you're just posting that as a graphic,” she says. “I'm a registered dietitian, so I follow a lot of registered dietitian accounts. So, making that more original and turning that into something fun that people want to view.”

School nutrition teams are busier than ever, so Gomez also tries to reuse photos and videos in different ways. “We don't have a lot of time, so using that photo to post on your grid, but then also using that photo to add it to a cool graphic and then maybe using that same photo later on in one of your reels but reshaping it in different ways helps save some time,” she says.

Gomez’s final point, recycling, means that she tries to have her posts repeatedly invoke certain messages or points that she wants to convey. “I think of recycling as concepts that I really want to hammer home,” she says. “What are the things that I really want to focus on and emphasize?”

Driving engagement

Engagement on Laveen’s account has increased since it was started earlier this year, and students, in particular, have been engaging with its Instagram reels. The team has also received positive feedback from other school nutrition programs and a shout out from the Arizona Department of Education.

As Laveen’s account continues to grow, Gomez aims to expand its reach.

“I hope that that people see our social media and start to just think positively about school food and see what it's really about,” she says. “And also to really think positively of the cafeteria workers that are doing the work.”

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