More Than a Meal: Triton Regional School District

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INTERRUPTOR

April 29, 2024

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Salad bar
Local, fresh vegetables served on the BYO salad bar.

The More Than a Meal Tour: Fueling the Commonwealth kicked off the first visit of the 2023-2024 SY on April 9, 2024 at Triton Regional School District. School nutrition director extraordinaire Sarah Littmann, MS, RD, hosted State Senator Bruce Tarr,  State Representative Dawne Shand, and Kristin Kassner State Rep in the 2nd Essex District, as well as a team from the Office for Food and Nutrition Programs from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, a SWITCH partner from the John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition (JSI), and superintendent Brian Forget.

Triton strives to expand and expose students to local, diverse, and cultural foods and has introduced students to plantains, edamame, yucca, dumplings, empanadas, and more! During the visit, Triton Regional School District showcased locally sourced foods, student-approved favorites and globally inspired menu options, including a build-your-own Latin American menu inspired by the culinary training and support received from JSI.  

Every school day Triton Regional School Districts offers students a variety of fresh, local fruits and vegetables to help expand their palates and optimize their overall health and well-being. One approach they find particularly effective is to offer their students a variety of fun and unique produce including interesting produce such as persimmon, starfruit, kiwi, pineapple, kale, fresh roasted broccoli, etc.

 

grab and go food items
Grab and Go student-approved food options.

Like many other districts across the Commonwealth, Triton has experienced the incredible return on investment of universal free school meals, for both students and the school nutrition program. Triton is investing in updating infrastructure through the purchase of kitchen equipment that supports more scratch based cooking.  Sarah recognizes the importance of pairing these investments with professional development for the school nutrition team.  One example was Triton’s participation in JSI’s CRISP culinary training series aimed to provide food service staff with hands-on culinary workshops including real-time guidance from the JSI Chef Instructor, as well as tools to market and menu culturally diverse and customizable meals to students. 

It is no surprise that expanding access to healthy school meals improves short and longterm outcomes for students.  Research shows that student eat their healthiest meals of the day at school. Providing free meals to all students increases equity by making school meal programs more accessible.  One effective strategy in Triton are the breakfast carts and second chance breakfast built into the school day which removes the potential of stigma and bullying at meal times. School administrators also report improved attendance and academic performance. 

Universal School Meals are truly a win-win for Massachusetts and Triton Regional School District clearly showcased the postive impact of the investment during this More Than a Meal visit. Kudos to the Triton Regional School District school nutrition team!

group of professionals posing for photo in school cafeteria
Front Row, from left to right: Denise Courtney, State Representative Dawne Shand, School Nutrition Director Sarah Littman, State Representative Kristin Kassner, Karen McGrail, Kristina Webber; Back Row from left to right: Nicole Good, State Senator Bruce Tarr, Superintendent Brian Forget, Rob Leshin

Join the More Than a Meal Tour and showcase how your locally sourced, culturally-inspired, student-approved menus help fuel student wellness and achievement in the classroom and community. Please join us at the 2024 Healthy Kids, Healthy Programs Summit: More Than a Meal – Fueling the Commonwealth’s Future on May 22nd for the More Than a Meal: Showcasing School Nutrition Programs session and discover tips for hosting school meal site visits as well as an opportunity to practice your “school nutrition pitch”! Registration is open until May 14th.