FOOD SERVICE: NUTRISLICE PROGRAM
Often, when people think about school lunch programs, they think about whatever lunch program they experienced as they were attending school—whether that was five, ten, or fifty years ago! Too often, people assume the worst about school foods.
School lunch programs, however, have changed dramatically over time—and especially over the last few years. Students have food and meal choices; serving options have changed to become more healthy and nutritious; serving processes have changed as well! The changes have also encouraged our Food Service staff to become more creative with menus and to incorporate more student feedback or input into the menu items.
One of the most recent changes in the ROCORI District, intended to help parents and students become even more informed about the nutritional values, is the implementation of a program called Nutrislice. The ROCORI lunch menus have gone online, starting with the December menu, using the program Nutrislice. I would like to offer some information about the Nutrislice program with this week’s column!
The NutriSlice website offers this background information about the program. Part of the rationale for implementing the program comes from the flexibility of the menus—they can be accessed from many different kinds of technology devices.
“Nutrislice Menus is a complete solution for marketing your nutrition program. With the click of a button your menus can be published to smartphones, tablets, and computers. Nutrislice menus are easier to create than PDF menus, and are proven to increase participation and inspire healthy eating choices.”
In addition to the flexibility, once the information is put into the system, the development of menus is also considerably more efficient. Again, the website explains, “9 out of 10 Nutrislice clients report that it takes less time to publish a Nutrislice menu than it took them to publish their old PDF menus. Thank you automation!”
The program actually helps to reinforce the work done by the food service staff. “Beautiful digital menus can help your customers understand all the hard work you put into serving healthy, delicious foods.”
In addition to the efficiency, implementation of the Nutrislice program should allow students and families to make better nutritional choices.
The Nutrislice website explains the background. “We believe that our nation’s schools are in a unique position to improve the health of the rising generation. And with the right tools, they can have an even greater impact.
We provide more transparency and information about where foods come from and how they’re prepared, special diets information for students with restrictions, effortless translations for multi-language populations, and much more. Come join us in making the world a healthier, happier place — one delicious menu at a time.”
The site continues: “Make the lunchroom more entertaining, fuel nutrition education and inspire healthy eating choices with Nutrislice. Through automated menu options, restaurant-quality imagery, design templates, customizable content, and engaging nutrition education, students are guided through the lunch line in an exciting and fun way!”
Chris Barker, Food Service Director for the ROCORI School District, added this thought in explaining the value of Nutrislice. “With Nutri Slice you can access: nutritional facts, carb counts, allergens, rate the menus and soon to come a description and picture of each menu item. You can access the menu on the school website or download the free app.”
Nutrislice adds this information, “It’s not easy to eat healthy, and schools can help teach students what a healthy meal looks like. Based on national standards, our Create-a-Meal app and website let students build a healthy meal. As they select foods from the menu, they fill up a MyPlate icon and receive encouraging advice on how to complete their meal.”
The Nutrislice program, as noted earlier, allows the food service staff to be much more efficient in designing the menu. Beyond this, the menu can be much more visually appealing.
“Our restaurant-quality designs,” suggests the website, “let you go beyond text-based menus and liven things up with motion, imagery, and much more. Nutrislice menus are infinitely customizable and will show the information you load into the platform including photos, descriptions, complete or partial nutrition information, custom icons and allergens, food labels, and more.”
Based on the things she has observed, Chris Barker contends, “It is user friendly and model friendly.” According to the website, the system is used and “trusted by more than 12,000 schools.”
It has taken considerable time to load the information needed for Nutrislice. Our former Food Service Director, Penny Hoops, started loading information into the process as early as the end of last school year. The change in leadership, from Penny to Chris, caused a little delay in the process, but there is a great deal of background information that needed to be loaded into the system.
Kayla Youngblom, assistant in the District Office, devoted considerable time to getting the information into the program. Her work, and the determination by Food Service leaders, helped bring the entire program together.
We are trusting parents and students will find value in the implementation of the Nutrislice menu program. The intent behind the change was to bring more information and better choices to our students and families!