SIGN UP HERE. A radio-promotion to get students to fill out free and reduced applications helped this Pawtucket, RI, high school raise participation by 15% overnight.
Pawtucket & Newport
School Lunch Program
Pawtucket & Newport, RI
"After having completed a pretty sizeable renovation to one of our cafes in Pawtucket—we expanded the menu, added a few concepts, updated the seating area—a number of the kids still weren't eating lunch. I asked the principal why. He attributed it to the stigma of free and reduced applications.
"In an effort to raise participation, we partnered with the local hip-hop radio station. The DJ's came into the school and had all the students fill out the forms regardless of their qualification. If they filled out the form, they were entered into a raffle to win prizes.
"The event not only raised our participation by 15% overnight, but it got the word out about school lunch. Having an outside personality like these DJ's dub the school lunch program ‘cool' helped to shift students' perception.
"Because of the success in initial promotion, we decided to expand the program statewide. In some districts we were able to raise participation by 25%!"
JUST LIKE MOM MADE. UGA student, Cortney Dodson and her mother, Linette, display their winning Pecan Pie Muffins.
J. Michael Floyd
Director of Food Services
University of Georgia
"One of the special events that we're most known for is called the ‘Taste From Home' event where we feature student recipes in all of the cafes.
"In the fall we send a letter to parents asking for their child's favorite recipes. Last year we received over 1000 recipes. We choose 125 recipes and on a special day, usually in the first or second week of December, we use the student recipes at all the meals across the campus.
"On the line, we identify the name of the dish, the student and the parent. We also award the family a special plate for having contributed to the event. Parents whose recipes are chosen are invited to come the meal for free.
"Long term, this program not only helps make students feel at home, but also helps us continually boost our menu offerings. A number of the recipes are incorporated into the menu planning."
Pecan Pie Muffins
YIELD: Approx. 12 muffins
4.25 oz. pecan pieces
7 oz. brown sugar
2 oz. self-rising flour
3.5 oz. liquid eggs
4 oz. margarine, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a mixing bowl combine pecans, brown sugar and flour.
3. In a separate bowl beat eggs until foamy; add melted margarine.
4. Combine egg mixture and flour mixture, stirring until just moistened.
5. Place foil baking cups in muffin pans and coat with cooking spray.
6. Spoon batter into cups; filling two-thirds full.
7. Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until done.
8. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks.
Recipe by Linette Dodson in Carrollton, GA, mother of UGA student Cortney Dodson.
Dining Service Complex Manager
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI
"Every year my team and I go to a conference called The Special Event Trade Show (thespecialeventshow.com). The things we see and experience at the conference inspire us and help generate theme ideas. We brings those ideas back to MSU and develop ways to incorporate them into our environment.
"We run about four major events a year—two each semester—as well as quite a few smaller events year round. Most recently we did a travel light theme where we featured healthful versions of cuisines from all over the world. We used suitcases and various travel items as decor.
"When we plan any event we listen to all of the ideas on the table. Then we weed out the ones that simply won't work for us. Once we have a solid idea for an event, we give it a name. We like to keep the names fairly vague though, to allow flexibility with menu planning and decor."