BACK TO SCHOOL
We all know that good marketing is to attract customers, from the students who eat at school every day to the students who do not participate yet. We know the basics: • Serve attractive entrees • Have multiple healthy choices available • Audit the presentation of food • Have information about your program readily available • Keeping clean eating areas, etc. But are we missing a key component? The answer is yes. Successfully marketing your child nutrition program starts at home with the parents. For years there has been a stigma about child nutrition programs, and directors have worked tirelessly tomake our programs shine and to inform families that school breakfast and lunch are healthy choices that add to their child’s learning experience. So, what are some ways to inform parents of your districts Child Nutrition Program? Parent Teacher Organizations/ Parent Information Night One way to inform parents is to be available to speak in person and have information readily available for school orientations. What better way for parents to hear about your program than directly from you! Share photos of your entrees, discuss themenus, andmost importantly, talk about how healthy your meals are and the nutritional standards we need to adhere to. Take time and educate the parents on reimbursable meals so they can prepare their children before they start school about what options are available. Create a hand-out that explains this in detail. At Hilton CSD, our graduating 6th graders come in for orientation in August and we have them go through the line with their parents to feel comfortable using the pin pad. We serve them a reimbursable middle school lunch to show parents what the meals look like and what choices they have. BY SCOTT ZIOBROWSKI FOOD SERVICE DIRECTOR, HILTON CSD Nutrition Program M A R K E T I N G YO U R School
NO SOY, NO EGG, NO DAIRY, NO KIDDING!
For incoming kindergarten kids, we have them come through the line with their parents as well, and we make them feel comfortable coming to lunch, so they aren’t afraid the first week of school. In addition, you can educate parents on platforms like myschoolbucks, or any menu program like Nutrislice or Mealviewer, which gives parents exact nutritional and allergy information, so they feel safe having their kids eat at school. Explain the simplicity of using apps and provide themwith tips on how to use them. Many companies provide tip cards/brochures for free. One final important piece is to educate parents on cost of meals and what your nutrition program breaks down to in food costs. Use a comparison that shows families that they can save money on a meal at school as opposed to a meal coming from home, especially in this present-day economy and during times of crisis like the COVID pandemic. District Websites Make sure your district food service website is updated with current information about your program. Audit the website often so parents can be comfortable going there to see what’s new and exciting about your program. Make it easy to navigate and highlight things like Farm to School and show them your industry partners, especially local farmers. Invite them in Have parents come in for a mini food show or simply to eat lunch with their kids. What better way to market your program than to serve them a nutritious school meal! Ask some vendors to show up on Parent Teacher night and do samplings in your cafeteria. So, while it is important to market your program to the students, keep in mind who your other customers are, and utilize any tool available to your benefit. Programs like Team Nutrition from the USDA, and our own state association NYSNA, often provide trainings and point of sale material to help you market your program internally and externally.
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A short message to our School Lunch Heroes
Alicia Maloney At Your Service Sales – Upstate New York 518-312-6354 email@example.com
Kathleen McCrosson Anity Group – Metro New York 516-616-0300 Kathleen.firstname.lastname@example.org
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