In October, The Nutrition Group, the food management company based in Irwin, Pa., launched a new companywide food education program called Take Nutrition Global.
Foodservice employees teamed up with consumer science and language teachers to create a monthly cafeteria program where students are introduced to healthy foods and facts from around the world. The program’s goal is to introduce students to unique and ethnic foods, while also teaching where the food comes from.
“This [program] is a chance for foodservice directors to talk to students about what they like, what they don’t like and how willing they are to try new things,” says The Nutrition Group’s Michelle Marker, director of programs.
High school students have monthly taste testings of the program’s items. Any featured recipes the high school students like are added to the regular lunch menu.
To incorporate education into the program, an information table is set up in the cafeteria where students are given a handout with country facts, a map and recipes to take home.
“The students look forward to the handouts, and teachers are excited to participate in the program,” Marker says. “The students are curious and always asking what will be featured next month, even though we try to keep that a surprise.”
The program has even helped break the language barrier between foodservice staff and students and has helped connect the staff and school boards, which are made up of people who often don’t make it into the cafeterias to see the program in action. During each monthly school board meeting, foodservice directors present the Take Nutrition Global items to inform them on what the program will be featuring that month.
“Every school is different and every school has different students,” Marker says. “What works at one school doesn’t mean that it will work at another. This is a good way for our foodservice directors to test new items and weigh out what works and what doesn’t at each school.”