Complete the USDA Farm to School Census
USDA has released their Farm to School Census and they want to hear from all school food authorities in the country. Just 12% of Massachusetts school districts have responded so far. If you have received the questionnaire, help reach the wonderful 77% response rate we achieved in 2013.
Every other year the USDA conducts a census of every school district about their local purchasing and agriculture-based educational programming. In 2013, the survey found that 76% of Massachusetts public school districts said they had procured local food or students had participated in farm to school curriculum or activities. This year, we have the opportunity to track our progress and provide helpful information for marketing the program and for use by local, state, and federal policymakers.
Every School Food Authority should have received an email with detailed instructions from the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), so please refer to them for thorough guidance, but you can access the census directly at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2015F2SCensus
Have questions about the Census? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kickoffs! Tell your Town about your Summer Program!
The Summer Food Service Program is a wonderful resource for kids and teens during the summertime; while school it out they still have a place they can go to get a meal at no cost during the day. While we all know the value of this program, we also all know that some families don’t even know about it! One solution? Host a kickoff event that no one in town can miss! This is a great way to bring attention to your program right at the beginning of the summer. A kickoff could involve joining up with other organizations or community groups to provide a few free and fun activities for kids to do while parents talk with program staff. Consider reaching out to your local emergency management organizations to see if they would be willing to donate a fire truck, police vehicle, or ambulance for a “Touch a Truck” activity. Contact the local library to do a story-hour. Or have the event at a spray park or park with a fun play structure! Many of our sponsors already host fabulous SFSP Kickoff events and may have some great suggestions. Greater Fall River RE-CREATION operates a fabulous kickoff at the start of each summer. If you’d like to speak with Grace about their kickoff she can be reached at email@example.com.
Libraries are trusted, open to the public, and many of our libraries have fun summertime activities for kids and teens, all making them great SFSP sites. In March we facilitated a webinar on which speakers from California and Massachusetts libraries provided their experiences running summer sites at libraries. Some of the benefits mentioned during the call include libraries seeing new families that had not previously visited the library, a calmer library atmosphere, and new and stronger partnerships with patrons and surrounding organizations. If you’re interested in operating a SFSP site at a library, contact your local library director!
Time for SFSP – Get the Word Out
The countdown to summer is on, and the Summer Food Service Program is gearing up to begin in a few short weeks! For many of you, the end of the school year and the beginning of the summer program is your busiest time of year, and it can be difficult to plan for program promotion. But have no fear! The Child Nutrition Outreach Program is here to help you with program expansion and program promotion. Here are some ways to promote your program throughout your community:
Hold a community meeting: CNOP can organize a community meeting in your town to get all stakeholders involved in the Summer Food Service Program around one table. This is a great way to brainstorm potential new sites, figure out ways to incorporate low cost programming, and recruit volunteers. A community meeting also allows members of the community to come together and discuss their ideas for the program and ways that everyone can collaborate.
Use the SFSP Video: CNOP has created a 3 minute, animated, promotional video that shows the need for the Summer Food Service Program in Massachusetts. It is a great video to play on a local access TV stations, in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, on your website, or social media, or at a meeting. Contact CNOP for a copy of the video titled, “Getting Involved in SFSP”, or visit the video online at Getting Involved in SFSP.
SFSP Incentives: CNOP is able to send free incentives to your program to help increase participation. Although we don’t have an endless supply, we do have some sunglasses, stickers, crayon wheels, water bottles, beach balls, jump ropes, yo-yos, and drawstring bags, available to mail out. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in receiving some free incentives for your program this summer!
Outreach: Promoting your summer program is vital to having good participation, especially if you are operating open sites. Try and think outside of the box when promoting your program, in order to reach more families. Here are some ways to promote your program this summer:
- Collaborate with your local grocery store. Have them put an SFSP flyer in every grocery bag that gets filled at the store.
- Have local businesses play the SFSP video in their waiting room – Doctors office, dentist office, WIC office, health centers, restaurants, DMVs – are all great places to play the video and reach a good audience. Think of it this way – if they have a TV, they can promote your program!
- Canvas your community with SFSP posters, door knockers, and brochures. CNOP has all of these outreach materials already created for you to order and distribute in your community. We can also create community specific flyers to distribute as well. Consider hanging posters and SFSP information on the bulletin boards of your local gyms, restaurants, car washes and businesses.
- Send site list information home with all of the students in your town. Partner with school administration to have the site list information go home with each student.
- Host a table at other events! Does your town have a summer youth baseball league? Host a table to distribute site list information!
Summer time is officially here! What better way to celebrate than with some hydrating and delicious strawberry banana ice pops!
Strawberry Banana Ice Pops: Makes 4
1 heaping cup of strawberries
½ cup of yogurt
2 Tablespoons agave syrup (or honey, maple syrup, or nothing)
1. Blend strawberries and 1 Tablespoon of agave syrup (if using) in a blender or food processor.
2. In a small bowl, stir the yogurt with 1 Tablespoon of the strawberry puree and 1 Tablespoon of agave syrup.
3. Fill ice pop molds with strawberry puree and yogurt (alternating to make layers) and slices of bananas and strawberries.
4. Insert sticks and freeze for 4 hours or until frozen. Run under hot water to release.