Where’s Graham? He Joined Staff Development Day!

Graham with Ashley Summers, Marketing Specialist (left), and Kathleen Moss, Field Supervisor (right), at Lexington High School, for their Food Service and Nutrition training.

Lexington County School District 1 (SC) Food Service and Nutrition employees enjoyed a week of training, and learning how they can better serve students and promote their school meal program. Congratulations to the schools that got “Grahamed” and received a plush Graham doll, for thinking of new and fun ways to market your child nutrition program in the cafeteria!

Meals Plus wants to help you increase participation in your cafeterias this year. You may have seen some of our resources in the past, including informational white papers and the annual Meals Plus Customer Cookbook. For the past two years, we have collected our customers’ most popular lunchroom recipes and compiled them into a complete child nutrition cookbook to share with our customers. Similarly, we now want to share ways to increase participation in your lunchrooms, and have created an encyclopedia of ways to promote your program. Download your free copy of “101 Ways to Increase Participation” today!

Free Online Payment Center Marketing Kit

The K12PaymentCenter.com Promotional Kit helps you notify parents that you’re accepting online payments!

school_meal_paymentsThe kit includes:

  • Customizable flyer
  • Logos for your district website
  • Phone message template for parent notification system
  • Email template
  • Videos and more!

To download the complete kit, log in to our Support Site and click on the “Online Payments Tool Kit” tab. There, you will also find a webinar that cover all of the administrative tasks associated with managing meal payments with K12PaymentCeter.com. Questions? Contact us today!


“The 5 P’s of Promoting Your School Meal Program” LIVE at the NC-SNA Conference

Nowadays, it takes more than the occasional promotion to market your school meal program. Join this Educational Mini Session at the SNA of North Carolina Annual Conference to learn how your marketing strategies can be more effective within the following areas: Product, Placement, Promotion, Price, and People. Audience: Directors, Supervisors, Managers.

nc sna conference 2016

The session is hosted by Cynthia Sevier, SNS, who has over 30 years of experience in school food service. She retired from Guilford County Schools in North Carolina, a district with 122 schools, and offers consulting services.

Are you interested in Cynthia presenting at your conference or district? Contact her today for more information! 


How this District Increased Participation by 5% with a Lunchroom Mascot

Meals Plus’ official mascot, Graham, has been traveling to child nutrition trade shows, software implementations, and vacationing with the Meals Plus Family for years. But recently, he’s been spending a lot of time in the lunchroom – and that’s turning into increased participation for Bladen County Schools (NC).

When Graham first visited Bladen County’s elementary schools, he was just a flat, cardboard cutout. But the students still loved him. Amy Stanley, the district’s Director of School Nutrition Services, said, “I’ve never seen anything like it, the students flipped for him! They wanted to hug him, talk to him, and they said they wanted to eat in the cafeteria because of Graham. That’s when I knew we could really do something special with Graham in our lunchrooms.”


Graham with his friends at Dublin Primary School’s Pre-K Class.


Graham has his own chair in the lunchline!

Together with the Meals Plus Marketing Team, Amy introduced Graham to her students in the form of a three-dimensional, plush doll. The students love Graham so much, he’s now a permanent fixture in their elementary school cafeterias. Amy’s staff sets Graham up on their breakfast cart in the morning, and on the serving line during lunch, and the schools conducted a Graham coloring contest. And when Amy generated reports in her Meals Plus child nutrition software, she found that by including Graham in her lunchrooms, her elementary schools had a 5% increase in breakfast and lunch participation.

It makes sense for Graham to be there. He’s a student in the lunchline, and excited to eat a healthy meal prepared by a loving cafeteria staff. We look forward to seeing how Graham can continue to help Bladen County Schools and all Meals Plus customers across the country increase their participation!

If you’d like Graham to come visit your school district, email him and he will make travel plans to see you!


Tips to Market your Child Nutrition Program

The School Nutrition Association provides lots of tips to market your child nutrition program, including a Promotional Calendar. By using awareness weeks and promotional days, the SNA has some easy and fun ideas to promote your program, including Sweet Potato, Newspaper in Education Week and the Indianapolis 500.

We know you’re using sweet potatoes more often these days, so why not take advantage of Sweet Potato Month (February) to promote this super food! Decorate your serving lines with a sweet potato version of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, create a sweet potato bulletin board with “Did You Know” information, including nutritional information, and serve various sweet potato recipes throughout the week. For more ideas, visit the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission’s website.

Newspaper in Education Week (March 3-7, 2014) aims to educate students on the history and value of the written word in an increasingly digital world. To bring the theme into your lunchrooms, you can decorate with photocopies of major headlines throughout history. And add the journalistic twist to your menu by offering items like Roving Reporter Ravioli, Press Pass Potatoes and Copy Desk Cornbread.

The Indianapolis 500 is on May 25th so why not get your students ‘revved up’ for the big race with a NASCAR theme. Hang signs at the entrance of your lunchline saying “Start Your Engines” or “The Lunchtime Speedway” and your staff could even wear checkered aprons. To encourage participation in the lunchroom, you can track a ‘race’ between the classes on a bulletin board. Each car could represent a grade level, which will move forward on the track depending on the lunch participation of students.

For more promotional ideas, visit the SNA’s Resource Center and click “Promoting Your Program” to find the 2013-2014 Promotional Calendar. And if you used any of their ideas or have some of your own, tell us about your experience and we will feature you on our website!Promoting_school_lunch