Child Nutrition and Psychology Combine for Smarter Lunchrooms

What do psychologists at Cornell University and Child Nutrition Directors have in common? They both want to figure out how to help students make healthier choices in the cafeteria!

Cynthia Sevier, the School Nutrition Operations Consultant for Meals Plus, at the 2018 Smarter Lunchrooms Symposium with a Meals Plus customer at Cornell University in early May.

In 2009 Cornell’s Food & Brands Lab created the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement. These studies examine how social and environmental elements of a cafeteria can influence students’ food selection and consumption. In other words, Smarter Lunchrooms provides low or no cost strategies to ‘nudge’ students to choose healthier foods while also decreasing waste, increasing participation, and increasing revenue. Some of these strategies include moving healthy food options to easy to reach, high-traffic areas, labeling healthy meals with fun, creative names, and representing white milk as at least 1/3 of all milk on display.

Earlier this month, Cynthia Sevier, School Nutrition Operations Consultant for Meals Plus, attended the Smarter Lunchrooms Symposium hosted by Cornell University. At the symposium, Cynthia learned about how the six principles of behavioral economics apply to food psychology. She also heard about research on Smarter Lunchrooms conducted in Florida, Georgia. Montana, and Nigeria. As a former Child Nutrition Director and certified School Nutrition Specialist, Cynthia said that the Smarter Lunchrooms Symposium was, “a great environment to learn about encouraging students to make healthy food choices.”

For more information and resources on making your cafeteria smarter, visit Smarter Lunchrooms Movement online. See how Meals Plus can help you plan smart options for your students with the menu planning and nutrient analysis solutions!


The Meals Plus Team Goes to #ANC17: “Starting Non-Traditional Feeding Programs”

The Meals Plus Team got the most out of #ANC17 in Hotlanta last month by venturing outside of the Exhibit Hall! We each attended an Education Session to learn how we can help keep your lunchlines moving. This gave us a new appreciation for everything child nutrition professionals do to feed our nation’s children.

Margaret Eubank, Account Manager for Meals Plus, attended the “Starting Non-Traditional Feeding Programs” Education Session and these were her favorite takeaways from the session:

  • Summer Feeding Bus.  Cincinnati Public Schools introduced a Summer Feeding Bus for their schools. They took an old school bus, gutted it, added a generator, and were able to serve meals from the bus. The bus worked as a fully functioning kitchen, allowing them to feed 450 kids in about 10 minutes. They were also able to serve during field days or field trips and not lose participation during those events.
  • Vending Machines. Breakfast vending machines are an easy-to-implement alternative feeding program.
  • Golf Carts. Another simple concept was creating golf cart service to serve after school snacks at different sports’ practices and events. Because of this, after school event participation has increased. Pizza parties and turkey trots are excellent additional opportunities for child nutrition to serve at.
  • Small Businesses. Bettie Wiggins, who is the Officer of Nutrition Services for Houston ISD, made a great statement during her presentation. She said, “Treat your department like a small business and not a non-profit. Make money people, increase your revenue, and protect your business base. That’s the ‘why’ behind non-traditional feeding programs.”

The presentation for this and all of the #ANC17 Education Sessions are available on the  School Nutrition Association’s website. Click to view the presentation, “Starting Non-Traditional Feeding Programs.”

Feature Your Students’ Favorite Recipes in the 2017 Child Nutrition Cookbook

For the third year in a row, Meals Plus is collecting students’ favorite recipes from Meals Plus customers and child nutrition departments from across the country and compiling them into a child nutrition cookbook!

Each Meals Plus customer will receive one free copy of the cookbook, and an electronic copy will be available to download on our website in the Fall of 2017.

We invite you to be a part of the 2017 Child Nutrition Cookbook! Send the most popular recipes from your district that help increase participation to and we will take care of the rest.

Click to download the 2015 and 2016 Meals Plus Customer Cookbooks.

Providing Relief for those Affected by Hurricane Matthew

This month, Hurricane Matthew caused great destruction and despair in the U.S. and the Caribbean. The storm is responsible for over 1,000 deaths, $7 billion dollars in damage, and those numbers continue to grow.

Photo: Getty Images, 2016 Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images, 2016 Getty Images

Although Hurricane Matthew has since dissipated offshore, the destruction from the storm continues to worsen, especially due to record flooding in North and South Carolina. Roads, homes and businesses have been severely damaged, schools are closed, people have been trapped in their homes or forced to evacuate, and many are still without power.

Some of the Meals Plus Family are among those affected, especially in the Carolinas, and we hope you will join us in donating to the American Red Cross to help fellow Meals Plus school districts. We hope the goodwill of those that are able to donate money, blood or platelets will help ease the suffering of Hurricane Matthew’s victims. Click here, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word MATTHEW to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those suffering from the devastation of Hurricane Matthew.

School Nutrition Employee Week Spotlight: Pelham School District’s Nutrition Department (NH)

In honor of School Nutrition Employee Week (May 2-6, 2016), Meals Plus is featuring child nutrition teams from across the country. Pelham School District’s Nutrition Services Director Kelly Rambeau is celebrating her team this year, and here’s why:

“I would personally like to show my appreciation and gratitude to my staff in the Pelham Nutrition Department.  The work that you all do on a daily basis is so important to the students and staff in our district.  Thank you to you all for being such an amazing team!”


Top: Pelham School District Nutrition Staff with Miss Vegetable, who brings fruits and vegetable samples to the students every month. Bottom left: “Throwback Thursday Lunch Ladies” dressed up as old ladies and serving meals inspired by the meals that were served years ago. Bottom right: The nutrition staff hand out hot and spicy chicken samples.

Thank you for recognizing your school food service team, Kelly! You and your team are superstars in the Meals Plus Family.

 Would you like to acknowledge members of your cafeteria staff, not only during SNEW, but anytime of the year? Email us and we will feature their story!


Where’s Graham? Eating Breakfast in Bladen County Schools (NC)

free_nutritional_analysis_softwareGraham enjoyed eating breakfast with his friends at Bladen Lakes Primary School in Elizabethtown, NC. The students loved Graham visiting so much, they said they want to eat breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria more often. Now Graham is visiting all of the elementary schools in the district, encouraging students to eat tasty and healthy meals in the lunchroom. Thanks for letting Graham enjoy your delicious school meals with you, Bladen County Schools!

Graham is Meals Plus. He enjoys visiting school cafeterias, attending child nutrition conferences, keeping up with child nutrition industry news and traveling. If you’d like Graham to come visit your school district, email him and he will make travel plans to see you!


Child Nutrition Cookbook from Meals Plus

cafeteria_management_systemsAs part of our mission to “Keep Your Lunchlines Moving,” and because we recognize that school nutrition professionals have some fantastic recipes, we published the Meals Plus Child Nutrition Cookbook.

The Meals Plus Child Nutrition Cookbook includes:
– Over 40 recipes, including favorites from Meals Plus Customers across the country and recipes using USDA Commodities
– Management tips from the Meals Plus White Paper Library
– Helpful USDA Conversion Charts
– And software “best practices” tips from the Meals Plus Help Desk

Click here to download a copy of the Meals Plus Child Nutrition Cookbook today!


Meet the Meals Plus Sales Team – Joy

Get to know the members of the Meals Plus Sales Team! Joy is a Meals Plus Account Manager that spends the majority of her time talking to school districts to see if Meals Plus cafeteria management software is a good fit for their operations.

The Dish: How long have you been with Meals Plus?Cafeteria_management
Joy: Since June of 2011.

TD: What duties does your position entail?
J: I am responsible for Regional Account Development for Meals Plus. I also enjoy assisting with new customer implementations and training.

TD: What do you like most about working with Meals Plus?
J: I enjoy developing relationships with Meals Plus users. The people we work with are so passionate about this industry that it is very rewarding to provide them with the tools they need to make their jobs easier!

TD: What do you like doing in your free time?
J: In my free time, I volunteer with the Junior League to serve the Dallas Community. I also enjoy spending as much time as possible with my family, friends and puppies!

TD: What was your favorite meal when you were in school?
J: I loved the chicken fillet sandwiches.

To meet the rest of the Meals Plus Team, click here!


Six Ways Meals Plus Improved Nauset Public Schools’ Child Nutrition Operations

There are multiple features of Meals Plus’ cafeteria software system that led Nauset Public Schools’ Director of Food and Nutrition Services Susan Murray to choose it for her school district. Among the top of the list is that because it is internet-based, she is able to work from any location and get the same reports or information she needs at a moment’s notice. And because Meals Plus had the ability to host the district’s server, the district has increased flexibility and access to real-time information for their seven schools.

school point of sale softwareSusan and her team appreciate the system’s ease of use, which makes training district staff stress-free. Since implementing Meals Plus during the 2012-2013 school year, they have been able to generate management reports on participation, financial information and tracking food choices. Because the system holds the free and reduced information discretely, the district has seen an increase in participation of free and reduced students at their high school. Day-to-day operations have been streamlined, decreasing the number of staff hours because of paperwork. Overall, Susan said, “adding Meals Plus has been a huge benefit to all of our schools,” and we are happy to have them as a member of the Meals Plus Family!

Nauset Public Schools’ Child Nutrition Department uses Meals Plus Point of SaleMenu Planning and Nutrient AnalysisAccountability and Free and Reduced software that is built especially for K-12 school districts. Request a free 30 day software trial here or call 1-800-541-8999 for more information!


Fiscal Survival for Child Nutrition – Free White Paper Download

Fiscal Survival 101: Financial Success in the Era of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act
From Child Nutrition Operations Consultant, Cynthia Sevier, SNS, the author of “Not All Doom and Legume: A Survival Guide to the New Meal Pattern Requirements” comes another white paper, “Fiscal Survival 101 for Child Nutrition”.

Download this free white paper to learn about several keys to financial health:

  • Meal Cost
  • Cost to RevenueFiscal Survival 101
  • Participation in your Program
  • Financial Position

Share your thoughts on the whitepaper on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter. And share the download link with your colleagues!

Check out our other informational white papers as well!Foodservice_sales_software