Turlock Unified School District
Turlock Unified School District Child Nutrition Services
“real.fresh.” Fruits & Vegetables Galore, Helping Kids Eat More!
General Information Child Nutrition Services Operation
Located in Stanislaus County, Turlock Unified School District (TUSD), Child Nutrition Services (CNS) is a leader in the county in creating a marketing program that focuses on feeding healthy foods to students and incorporating F2S programs based on the preferences of the students. Turlock serves a total population of 13,200 K-12 grade students at 14 school sites. This includes; 9 elementary schools, 2 Middle Schools/Junior High, 3 high Schools, and I Adult School. The district has a FRPM eligibility rate of 64%.
Budget & Staffing
Scott estimates the following use of his 5.8 million dollar budget; $250,000 or 4% is used to purchase fresh produce. What is uncommon is that 8% of his budget ($500,000) is used for Marketing and Nutrition Education efforts. Scott does not receive any grant funding at the current time. In addition, he does not encumber on the General Fund.
Scott Soieseth, is the Child Nutrition Services Director. He is supported in his office by a supervisor, a secretarial staff, a marketing assistant, and a part-time dietitian. What is most interesting is the full time Communication marketing assistant. This position works on all the campaigns and projects to develop materials and promote the Nutrition Feeding Programs, the F2S efforts, and the Nutrition Education Programs. Two part-time teacher coordinators are employed at two sites to promote Nutrition Education Efforts.
At the school cafeteria sites Scott employees 16 full-time (over 6 hours) and 43 part-time staff. All the full-time staff are cafeteria managers.
Feeding Programs & Menu Planning
TUSD/CNS participates in the following programs; National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Summer Seamless Feeding Program, and the Meal Supplement (Snack) Program, Child Care and Adult Program, Catering and the TEAM Nutrition Program. The following are the participation based on enrollment; 65% NSLP, 25% SBP, 18% SSFP, and 7% MSP.
TUSD/CNS utilizes the NSMP menu planning system. Menus are planned 30 days in advance. In the 2011-2012 school year Scott will be implementing a quarterly cycle menu. Secondary sites utilize scatter systems and self service serving systems. The elementary sites are all served using Speed lines.
Produce Bars are available at all schools in the district (packaged and self serve). Whole fruits, fresh vegetables are planned and served daily. Offer versus serve is implemented at all school sites. The USDA Fruits and Vegetables Galore tool kit is utilized as a training manual for staff at sites. At the high schools and middle schools packaged salads are available for students. At the high schools all of the scatter systems provide “sandwich & burger” self serve bar veggie toppings and fresh fruit choices.
Local Wellness Policy
TUSD adopted the first LWP in June 2004. Since that time a LWP Committee has been meeting consistently. The LWP committee has revised the policy twice since its initial adoption. Changes and revisions were made to meet current National and State Law on Competitive Foods. There are currently no policies that address F2S.
Purchasing and Sourcing
Scott designates a 90 Mile area for local and 500 miles for regional. Scott purchases the majority of fresh produce (40%0 through the DOD program. He purchases about 25% of his produce though a local cooperative bid. He also has a relationship with a local produce company and several local farmers (3). Scott plans to expand the number of local farmers in the next year.
He currently purchases/sources several of his meat products from local sources that provide organic product (whole chicken and beef patties). He plans to begin sourcing more of his entrée menu items (burritos, other meat items). Scott does all the purchasing of produce himself. The part time dietitian does support identifying local farmers and vendors.
In the next year, Scott has developed a relationship with one high school agriculture teacher. The teacher will be growing produce to be used in that high school feeding program.
Production and Service
All of the fruit served is whole. The only production necessary is washing the fruit. The veggies are all brought in precut. There is no staff dedicated to preparing produce. Staff is involved in assembly and the packaging of entrée salads (for secondary sites) and packaging of single serve veggies for the elementary sites.
Scott has adequate storage and preparation facilities for produce. Although he did state that if his sites were more involved in preparation and production his facilities would be inadequate. Scott noted he would like to purchase equipment to precut some of the veggies rather than purchase them precut.
He has installed a chicken roaster oven and was testing product the day I visited. The dark meat was served roasted with baked fries (asparagus next year). The white meat is shredded by staff and used in burritos and tacos.
Promotion and Marketing
Several years ago Scott hired a marketing company to conduct focus groups with his secondary students. The firm than used this information to develop the program “real.fresh” and a marketing logo. I have attached a description of the program. Scott has implemented most of the recommendations at the secondary schools. He then plans to introduce the program to his elementary schools.
Scott also has a full time staff dedicated to marketing, a Communication Marketing Specialist. I have attached the job description. This position has provided the labor and resources to implement the Marketing Plan.
The Marketing aspect of the TUSD/CNS is very strong and successful. Scott feels this is due to hiring the company and having dedicated staff for Marketing.
The forms and events used to Market the program are listed below;
TUSD/CNS conducts promotion of the CNS program with a focus on offering and consuming fresh produce. The messages are communicated via the web, newsletters, local media, school community events, healthy messages on delivery vehicles, posters for both the schools, cafeterias, and community sites, board presentations, local papers, themed festivals, and farmers markets.
As stated in the survey, TUSD students prefer veggies (both fruit and vegetables) in the following preference; fresh, frozen, canned. When serving local product Scott has noted an increase in student consumption in produce. Scott does not serve nuts and legumes.
Farm 2 School
TUSD/CNS uses CNS funds to provide F2S activities. In addition, TUSD/CNS leverages resources by partnering with a number of district and community partners. These activities and partners are listed below;
A specialty crop grant is providing funds for a research project “Food Dude”. This project in partnership with CSU, Stanislaus provides funds to measure pre and post consumption of identified specialty crops.
In addition, TUSD was awarded grants for 7 elementary school sites. The funding which came from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation provided funding to conduct staff wellness activities.
Nutrition Education Efforts
HOTM materials are also distributed to teachers to promote the use of Nutrition Education and Taste testing in the classroom. Currently, two school sites are involved in HOTM and garden enhanced nutrition education. Although Nutrition Education materials and TEAM nutrition education materials are promoted and/or provided to educators Scott feels the amount of classroom instruction is “hit and miss’.
Scott is certainly a leader both locally and regionally in the development of his Marketing program. It has been planned and implemented through a marketing plan He is also a leader for the area in F2S efforts. . It would be interesting to see how far Scott could go if he developed his F2S efforts in the same manner.