Friday, May 24: Composting: Phase 1 Launched District Wide

In September, Preparations went underway with the Carlton Food & Nutrition Services staff to launch Phase 1 of a pilot composting program, starting with kitchen food waste. Phase 1 included training sessions for Food & Nutrition Services staff held by Janelle Rolke, Waste Reduction Coordinator of the City of Salem. After training staff then began composting food waste the following week in small buckets placed throughout the kitchen. When full, the buckets are emptied into Black Earth Compost bins securely sealed and stored outside the school to be picked up weekly. 

Throughout the year our community has worked to expand Phase 1 to all schools in Salem. We are proud to announce Phase 1 of composting has officially been launched in all Salem Public Schools’ kitchens. To further expand knowledge on the importance of composting, resources will be provided to educators to teach students about the environmental importance of composting and will help students develop a broader understanding of sustainable systems. 

Through this pilot, we will empower the school community to take ownership of its continued growth towards integrating sustainable practices into daily operations and community culture. This will also provide support and contribute to the City’s progress towards its solid waste reduction as well as its sustainability and resiliency goals.

SPS Food and Nutrition Services Named Wellness Champions 

The Food and Nutrition Services Department at Salem Public Schools was named a Massachusetts Wellness Champion by the John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition! The honor was earned by completing tier 1 and tier 2 of the Institute/DESE wellness training, a rigorous process that can take several years. SPS Food and Nutrition Services Director Irvelt Perrin and Assistant Director Michaela Short were honored this past week at the Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit in Norwood, Mass.

The wellness training involved establishing and implementing the SPS School Wellness Guidelines, stemming from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The Act aims to equip all students with the knowledge and skills for healthy lifestyles and effective decision-making. “This recognition has been years in development, encompassing current and past leadership,” said Mr. Perrin. The honor aligns with the District’s Strategic Plan, emphasizing social and emotional learning support for each student. The John C. Stalker Institute educates Massachusetts

Friday, May 10: Harvest of the Month: Red’s Best Partnership

The May Harvest of the Month is Seafood. The Harvest of The Month program celebrates local abundance and has a goal of encouraging healthy food choices by increasing students’ exposure to:

  • Seasonal foods
  • Supporting local farmers
  • Building excitement about school meals

In honor of the Harvest of the Month, Salem Public Schools will be partnering with Red’s Best to serve locally sourced Fish Sticks! These fish sticks will be served for the first time on May 14th during school lunch throughout the district.

Red’s Best gathers and distributes wild-caught fish and seafood for over 1,000 small community-based fishing boats with a mission is to sustain the livelihoods of American fishermen while ensuring ample fish stocks for the future. This company connects local fishermen throughout the New England region, allowing Red’s Best to aggregate quickly and provide better services to fishermen.

Red’s best was selected as a partner for Salem Public Schools as their motto is “traceable American seafood.” Through their technology, they are able to track a catch from the moment a fisherman offloads their vessel to the Red’s Best trucks. Through this process we are able to trust that fish are caught locally, labeled correctly and subject to strict quality control measures providing us the freshest fish possible for our students.

Through our partnership with Red’s Best our schools will be contributing to these benefits of sourcing local seafood: 

  • Freshness: Fresh is Best. Local seafood is always more fresh as it doesn’t travel long distances. Our students will have access to the freshest seafood. 
  • Supporting Local Economies: Buying locally caught seafood supports fishermen and coastal communities. We will be directly supporting local.
  • Sustainability: Local sourcing promotes sustainable fishing practices.
  • Reducing Environmental Impact: Local sourcing minimizes carbon emissions associated with shipping and supports efforts to lower the environmental impact of food distribution.

This partnership is an exciting way to bring fresh seafood to our cafeterias for the first time on Tuesday 5/14 and will continue to bring us fresh seafood  in the Future.

Salem High School Changes to Breakfast: 

Scratch-cooked, made-to-order pancakes (with customizable toppings) will be served at Salem High School’s breakfast on Wednesdays and Fridays, beginning on May 15.  To accommodate the new offerings, breakfast at Salem High School will begin being served in the third floor cafeteria starting Monday, May 13.  Please note the new location and join us for pancakes on Wednesdays and Fridays. (Breakfast sandwiches will continue to be served in the third floor cafeteria on Tuesdays and Thursdays!)

Friday, Apr. 5: Salem High School Daily Dinner a Huge Success

Reminder: Salem High School now serves daily dinner for Salem High School students. This program will be in its fifth month of operation in April. The after-school dinner program strives to combat hunger in our community and promote student wellness. 

The program has shown great success in its first few months of operation: 886 dinners were served in January, 582 dinners were served in February, and 515 dinners in March. With spring sports and extracurricular activities gearing up, we anticipate even greater participation. We are prepared to fuel students up so they can excel in their after school sports and other activities while maintaining their health.

A survey was conducted among students participating in dinner last month on what their favorite dinner meals are. Students selected: 

  • Chicken tenders
  • Mozzarella sticks 
  • Chicken Caesar Salad

Student suggestions for new dinner items included:

  • Hispanic Food
  • French Toast
  • Grilled cheese tomato soup
  • Nachos/burritos. 

All this feedback and student input went into consideration crafting our Dinner Program menu for April. The student-favorite grilled cheese will be celebrated on Apr. 12 on National Grilled Cheese Day with a classic grilled cheese on whole wheat bread.

In April, several new additions will make their way to the SHS dinner program menu. We have a special treat planned for students who stay for dinner on Thursdays. Dinner on Thursday is now “Dupe Thursday” in reference to duplicates, which are less expensive alternatives to brand name products. Dupe Thursday gives students a chance to try Salem Food and Nutrition Services recreations of popular restaurant meals such as Chipotle, Panera Bread, and Chick Fil A for free as part of school dinner. 

Our first dupe meal was served on Apr. 4: a Chick Fil A Dupe! The meal contained a dill chicken patty or buffalo chicken patty on a whole grain bun, sweet potato waffle fries and assorted dipping sauces. We hope students enjoyed this first dupe. Get ready to take part in Dupe Thursday all month and let us know how our dupe compares to the real thing.

A few more exciting SHS Dinner additions for April include:

  • On Apr. 9, a new dinner menu item will be launched: loaded mac and cheese: a serving of whole grain Mac & Cheese Topped with Green Onion, Diced Chicken, and Diced Tomato
  • On Apr. 24, a student fan favorite “breakfast for dinner: chicken and waffles makes its return and will be served at dinner for the first time with Red Bliss Harvest Home Fries.

We are excited to see what students think of these new dinner options. Please share your feedback on our Google form:
Please take a look at the full April SHS dinner menu and the delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner options for all schools throughout the district here:

Friday, Mar. 15: March is National Nutrition Month; Breakfast Participation Increases Significantly

March is National Nutrition Month, kicked off by celebrating all the nutritional value that comes with eating school breakfast. The goal of National Nutrition Month is to prioritize nourishing our bodies with wholesome foods and making informed choices that support our well-being. Let’s celebrate the power of nutrition in fueling our bodies and minds for success, both inside and outside the classroom. To close out the Month we will be sharing Nutrition tips and fun facts on the Salem Food and Nutrition Services social media pages and displaying fun nutrition content on cafeteria TVs in all Salem schools. 

We launched National Nutrition Month with National School Breakfast Week during Mar. 4-8. Two new menu items debuted on breakfast menus throughout the district. Egg and Cheese Stuffed Hash Browns were introduced to our Collins Middle School Students on Monday Mar. 4 and participation at Collins increased by 72%! On Friday, new Strawberry Banana smoothies that were served were a success as well; participating at Collins was more than double the typical Friday breakfast participation. Both these items will be returning to menus soon as a result!

Coloring Contest

Throughout National School Breakfast Week, elementary school students had the opportunity to participate in a  coloring contest (image below). Prizes have been distributed to all schools for the winning students who participated in the contest. Prizes include a Salem Food and Nutrition services water bottle with fun breakfast stickers inside. Shout out to Saltonstall for having the most students participate in the coloring contest! 

Collins, Saltonstall lead in participation

For the Mar. 8th finale, schools handed out Hawaiian leis at school breakfast to incorporate the week’s theme: “Surfs up with school breakfast.” Food and Nutrition services staff dressed in Hawaiian shirts and tropical attire. Salem High School celebrated with tropical decor and music. 

Participation in school breakfast increased at all schools, with the highest overall increase in participation were Collins Middle School and Saltonstall. Participation at Collins in comparison to the week prior showed a 45% increase in the number of students who ate school breakfast while Saltonstall showed a 25% increase.  Thank you to all the students who participated in National School Breakfast Week – we hope students will keep it up and join us for breakfast everyday.

We need your feedback

As a reminder, Salem High School now serves daily dinner for SHS students! This after school dinner program strives to combat hunger in our community and promote student wellness. We would like to receive student feedback on what meals they enjoy most and what meals they would like to see.

Send us your feedback

Friday, Mar. 1: Salem Food and Nutrition Services Celebrates National School Breakfast Week from March 4-8

The NSBW campaign theme, “Surfs Up with School Breakfast,” reminds the entire school community that school breakfast provides a healthy and energizing start to the day. In comparison to last year’s breakfast participation districtwide, this year has already shown an 8.8% increase in the number of students participating in school breakfast. 

To ensure that students are fueled for learning every school day, Salem Public Schools serves daily nutritious breakfasts as grab & go meals, breakfast in the classroom and classic breakfast is served in school cafeterias. All breakfasts are complete with fruit and low-fat or fat-free milk. Breakfast is served throughout Salem Public Schools at the following times: 

  • 7:30 a.m. at Salem High School, Horace Mann, Bentley and Bates. 
  • 7:40 a.m. and again at 8:00am at Collins Middle School
  • 8:00 a.m. at Saltonstall School
  • 8:15 a.m. at Witchcraft Heights Elementary School
  • Carlton serves breakfast in the classroom at the start of the school day

Salem Food and Nutrition Services will be debuting two new breakfast items on our menus the week of Mar. 4-8. Our grades 6-12 students will be served delicious Egg and Cheese Stuffed Hash Browns Monday Mar. 4. To close out the week, our K-8 students will be served a Strawberry Banana Smoothie for breakfast Friday, Mar. 8. Drinking a smoothie for breakfast is a great source of energy and protein.

View SPS March Menus

Coloring Contest: Throughout the week, Salem elementary school and middle school students will be having a breakfast coloring contest to get younger students excited about school breakfast. These students will have the opportunity to win a variety of prizes and have their artwork displayed in the cafeteria. We will make the coloring pages available to students by supplying copies to teachers to distribute to students, having copies of coloring pages in the front office, and available to print online on the Food and Nutrition Services webpage

All coloring pages will be eligible for the coloring contest if submitted to a cafeteria staff member by Monday, Mar. 11. Prizes will be distributed to the winning students the following week. Students will need to have their name, teacher’s name, and school on the back of the sheet when submitting. 

‘Surf’s Up’: At Salem High School, Salem Food and Nutrition Services will be hosting a “Surf’s Up” breakfast celebration during breakfast in the first-floor cafeteria on the last day of school breakfast week on Friday, Mar. 8. Community members will attend this event to help serve breakfast and get a chance to see and try the delicious breakfast that is served in our district. There will be music and activities at this event. Staff and students are encouraged to wear their best Hawaiian shirt in honor of the theme. Students, teachers and families can follow along National School Breakfast Week through Salem Food & Nutrition services social media pages @spsfoodandnutrition and the hashtag #NSBW24.

Friday, Feb. 2: February: An Exciting Month With a Lot to Celebrate

Happy February! The February breakfast and lunch menus for all schools along with the SHS dinner menu are now available here

View this month’s menus

February is an exciting month with a lot to celebrate and great meal options.

February is also American Heart Health month. All meals served throughout the district are whole grain and low sodium, both essential factors to maintaining a healthy heart. Food and Nutrition department will be sharing heart healthy tips and recipes to promote prioritizing heart health.

  • National Pizza Day is Friday, Feb. 9 and this fun food holiday will be celebrated with whole grain French bread pizza served in every school. This month’s menu will also incorporate the food of different cultures.
  • National Italian Food Day is Tuesday, Feb. 13: All schools will be served an Italian sampler including meatballs, mozzarella sticks, garlic bread and Italian vegetables.
  • Dominican Independence Day will be celebrated on Tuesday, Feb. 27. A meal honoring the culture of the country will be served including roasted chicken on the bone with Spanish rice and beans, yucca Fries and baked sweet plantains. Last year when this meal was served students participated in great numbers. The number of students that ate the roasted chicken meal at each school included:
    • Bates 205
    • Bentley 224
    • Carlton 18
    • Collins 429
    • Horace Mann 217
    • Witchcraft 259
    • Saltonstall 217
    • Salem High School 497

We’re hopeful more students come together to try this meal and celebrate Dominican Independence Day. We look forward to the month ahead and sharing these delicious meals with our students.

Friday, Jan. 19: The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP): What You Need to Know

Salem Public Schools Food and Nutrition Services participates in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP), a federally-funded program that provides free fresh fruits and vegetables to children at all of the elementary schools in our schools.  The goal of the program is to introduce children to fresh fruits and vegetables, including new and different varieties, and to increase their consumption of fresh produce.

This program is operated outside of regular breakfast and lunch programs and is available throughout the school day Tuesday through Thursday. Different produce is offered throughout the year depending on seasonal availability. This past week our schools offered gala apples, snow peas, and orange wedges. Fruits and vegetables, available at different times during the year, include commonly eaten items such as apples and bananas, but also include items lesser known to younger students such as papaya, plums, and more.

Find out more about the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

The program also educates students on the many different types of fruits and vegetables available and encourages a healthy school environment by increasing the amount of fresh produce consumed by students. To further promote nutrition education, flyers and activity sheets with facts on different fruit and vegetable items will be distributed to all schools in the coming weeks as a new step in promoting nutrition education throughout the Salem elementary schools. Teachers are also encouraged to utilize the Food and Nutrition department to incorporate nutrition education into lesson planning.

A recent evaluation of the program by the USDA revealed that students in participating schools consumed more fruits and vegetables than non-participating students by approximately one-third of a cup per day. These students consumed more carbohydrates, vitamins A and C, and fiber, all essential nutrients for a child’s growing body.

  • Carbohydrates support energy, which children need to play, learn and grow.
  • Vitamin A benefits the immune system and eye health
  • Vitamin C is vital for healing wounds, and for repairing/maintaining bones and teeth
  • Fiber helps children stay full throughout the day

This research shows what we are seeing in our elementary schools everyday: the FFVP program introduces students to a variety of fruits and vegetables and increases their healthy foods. This is an important step in their journey to building lifelong healthy eating habits. Because good health is a partnership, we hope that community members and families will encourage students to tell them about the fruits and vegetables they tried as part of this program.

To learn more about the Salem FFVP program, the current selection of fruit and vegetables being offered in our schools, and more nutrition education information visit our Food and Nutrition Services page.