It takes a lot of work for School Nutrition professionals to plan, cook, and serve meals to all their students on a daily basis.
By the time all of that is finished, there can be little (if any) time left over for managing your program’s reputation, engaging parents, and getting more students into your lines.
Still, these are critical steps to take for your program’s success.
To that end, we’ve come up with some ideas that will help you promote your program using channels that are already available to you.
Integrate Your Food Throughout Your School
One of the best ways to build excitement for your program among students is to educate them. But how can you do that effectively without spending too much extra time? And even if you have the time, how do you make sure the effort will pay off?
Given that you’re already at an educational institution, the most efficient way to go about educating students is to leverage the opportunities already available.
Consider working with various teachers in your building to give students a food-based lesson that fits their curriculum as well as educates and excites them about food.
- See if there’s a way to discuss FDA nutrition guidelines with students so that they can learn about healthy, balanced diets and menu planning at the same time.
- If students are learning about a particular region or area of the world, you could try to incorporate a dish or themed meal in your menu that week.
By working with your teachers, you can achieve several important goals at the same time:
- Educating students about how and why you create the meals they eat every day.
- Getting them excited about food by tying it to lessons they’re learning in class.
- Getting them excited about their classes by tying it to their favorite part of their day: lunch!
Invite Parents and the Community
Along the same lines as working with teachers to engage students, you also can open up this idea to parents and the community by creating a taste testing event.
Through this experience, parents, students, and community members not only will gain a better understanding of what you do, but also they will be able to meet and get to know you and your team. Building personal relationships is the foundation of future teamwork between parents and your School Nutrition program.
This also will give you a great return on your time. The experience of tasting various foods will generate more enthusiasm than if you were simply to mail a newsletter or speak at a PTA meeting and only tell parents about your program, rather than showing them firsthand.
If leveraging the school’s resources to achieve these in-person experiences isn’t possible for your School Nutrition program, another option is to take the engagement digital.
Social media provides a great opportunity for your program to get in front of even more parents than you would at a PTA meeting, and to do it in a much more fun way, too. Setting up an account on most social media channels is free and can be done on a school computer or tablet, or on your personal smart phone.
Plus, social media engagement can be less time-intensive, since you don’t actually need to go anywhere to do it.
If you choose this route, though, understand that it does take longer to form those relationships with parents online than it would in person. The key is to be patient and consistent, regularly sharing and updating your social media account over the long term.
For step-by-step guidance on setting up your program’s social media account, check out our series, School Lunch and Social Media.
What’s the most unique idea you’ve tried in order to promote your School Lunch program? We want to know!
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us about it.
We’ll share your idea on social media to help your fellow School Nutrition programs succeed!
Do you need a way to save time on your core duties (planning, cooking, and serving) so you have more time to engage parents?
If so, you should take a look at eTrition, the School Nutrition software system that can truly help you and your team get work done with less effort and in less time.