• Let's Celebrate Earth Month!
    April 12, 2016 Comments(0)

    When you hear about Earth Month, what's the first thing you think of? For me it immediately transports me back to elementary school. All of a sudden I am 7 years old again, sitting at my desk transforming a leftover milk carton from lunch into a flower pot while my teacher lists off all of the reasons why we should recycle. These days if you asked a 7 year old what Earth Month means to them, I bet you would be surprised and impressed by their answer.

    Sustainability means:

    • Protecting the Planet – "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle"…it's an oldie but a goodie. Everything we do has an effect on our planet. What do you do to help reduce your footprint? It can be as easy as carpooling to work, turning the faucet off when you brush your teeth or bringing reusable bags to the grocery store.
    • Living a Healthy Lifestyle – Everyone knows they should eat healthy and get more exercise but did you know that these habits affect more than just your own health? Walking or riding your bike instead of driving helps cut down on gas use nationwide. The Flexitarian diet is one of my favorites because it promotes plant based proteins as the center of the plate. By reducing your meat consumption you can reduce your environmental footprint.
    • Responsibility – Being sustainable literally means to perpetuate existence. Everything boils down to our responsibility for taking care of our planet so that we can leave our children and their children with the same amazing earth we have today.

    Schools and their communities have done a tremendous job of teaching their students that sustainability is more than just one day or one month of the year. Instead they are incorporating important lessons into the school curriculum that reminds them sustainability needs to be lived every day. 

    ​In Newville, Pennsylvania all three elementary schools in Big Spring School District now have gardens. They call them their Eat.Learn.Live Gardens because they are meant to teach the students about agriculture and the importance of sustainable growth. The gardens have become part of the school community, everyone from students to teachers to custodians pitch in to help the garden prosper. Not only do the students get to help grow the produce but they get to enjoy eating it as well. The vegetables and herbs grown in the gardens are used in the school cafes. Michelle Morgan, Food Service Director for Big Spring, says "There has been a great response from the kids regarding the gardens and items that appear on the lunch menu. In particular, they love the homemade kale chips, oven browned parsley potatoes and white radishes." When it comes to living sustainably everyday these gardens teach the students to do just that. Even in the summer months when school is not in session the gardens are still available to the community members. They are able to pick vegetables for their families in exchange for picking a weed or two.

    So why have a school garden? Gardens not only give students access to new and exciting produce they may not get anywhere else but also provides additional physical activity during the school day. Gardens provide teachers and school staff the opportunity to bring their classrooms outside. If you think about it, any portion of the school curriculum can be tied to gardening. Math, social studies, art, science it can all be tied back to the garden…talk about new ways to help our students grow!

    If you are interested in starting a garden in your school but don't know where to start, reach out to your food service director. Chartwells has compiled numerous resources that are extremely helpful when embarking on a school garden project. You can also request a copy of our comprehensive eat. learn. live. School Garden Program Guide right from our website! This resources leverages the experience of KidsGardening.org, Chartwells K12 and our 8 pilot school locations who believe in the powerful impact gardens have on creating sustainable school systems and practices as well as sustainable wellness habits for students.

    Gardens aren't the only way to live sustainably every day. Try starting a recycling program, start a walking club or try going meatless one day a week. Every little bit counts! #EarthMonth

    ​Aliza Stern, RD is a Chartwells K12 Regional Dietitian in the Mid Atlantic Region. 

  • #JustStandUp to Cyberbullying!
    April 1, 2016 Comments(0)
    ​April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and Chartwells K12 has teamed up with our partners Prevent Child Abuse America and Hampton Creek to raise awareness around an emerging concern for parents and schools: cyberbullying.

    As a partner to our schools and communities, our teams have an important responsibility that extends beyond the cafe in helping to create healthy, great experiences for our students. With that knowledge, our teams have committed to being upstanders - supporting students by modeling positive behaviors, encouraging empathy and being an ally as a trusted adult. 

    Last year, our partnership with Prevent Child Abuse America initiatied with training for our teams on bullying awareness and prevention. As a result, our teams feel empowered to identify bullying behaviors and promote positive environments. In partnership with Hampton Creek, we launched #JustABite - a social campaign to encourage students to stand up to bullying - which resulted in over $3500 donated to anti-bulling efforts.

    This year - as we engage with students in the digital space - we have focused the conversation to cyberbullying.

    Throughout March, we ​hosted a collaborative blog series (which you can read here​!) to understand the problem and explore tactics to better prepare students, parents and teachers ​​​to #JustStandUp to cyberbullying. 

    In April, we challenge YOU to #JustStandUp to cyberbullying by sharing and discussing the blog series with your friends and family, engaging in the dialogue on social media and sharing our partnership video #JustStandUp - developed and produced in collaboration with Prevent Child Abuse America and Hampton Creek - through your social channels. For each share the video receives with the #JustStandUp, Hampton Creek will donate $1 towards anti-bullying efforts across the country! 

    Check out the video and share as we #JustStandUp to cyberbullying together!



  • Considerations Before Posting to Social Media
    March 28, 2016 Comments(0)

    When deciding whether to post photos or comments on social media, there are a number of factors to consider.  In addition to ​your own thoughts, you need to take into account that friends and family members will be impacted by your choices. Also, once something is posted, even if you delete it at a later date, the content remains on-line as part of your Internet footprint.

    Questions to ask:

    1. Does this photo reflect an image you feel comfortable sharing and will my friend(s) included in the photo also approve of their image going public?
    2. How will your parents, siblings, or grandparents feel if they see the picture?
    3. Will I be happy that I posted this picture five years from now? When you post a photo online, remember that it leaves an Internet footprint or online history that remains even if you delete the photo.
    4. Should I post this status? Is the content rude or abrasive? Are you sharing too much personal information?
    5. Should I post this comment? Is the comment kind? Would you say it to someone face-to-face?
    6. Should I share this link? Is the link for a website with appropriate content? Does the link give TMI (too much information), compromising your privacy and safety?





  • National Nutrition Month: Savor the Flavor All Year Long!
    March 15, 2016 Comments(0)

    ​As we continue to celebrate National Nutrition Month throughout March, Chartwells Registered Dietitian Allison Haring teaches us a few of her tips and tricks to savor the flavor all year long!

    March is National Nutrition Month!  As a registered dietitian this means I get to celebrate my love for food and nutrition all month long. 

    I was especially excited about this year's National Nutrition Month theme, "Savor the Flavor of Eating Right".  Eating right is so much more than seeking out the healthy nutrients that are found in the foods and beverages we choose to put into our bodies.  To gain all the benefits of proper nutrition we also have to ENJOY the food we eat.  This year's theme of savor the flavor places emphasis on appreciating food traditions, enjoying the social experiences built around food, and celebrating the pleasure of great flavor that food adds to our lives.     

    Savoring the flavor of eating right means to:

    • Enjoy the entire eating experience – who we are with, what we are eating, and being fully aware of our dining environment.
    • Appreciate food traditions – delight in the flavors that make up your culture or your family's food traditions; whether it's a large dinner every Sunday night or trying new dishes at cooking classes with your closest friends every Thursday.
    • Develop a healthy and mindful eating pattern – choose nutritious and flavorful foods, while decreasing added sugar, sodium, and unnecessary amounts of fat.   

    There are ways to add flavor to our food without sabotaging our nutritious diets!  Here are some of my favorite tips:

    • Instead of adding salt to vegetables try different combinations of herbs and spices – try fresh sage and thyme on roasted potatoes or fresh ginger and garlic on stir-fried asparagus!
    • Sprinkle cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice on fruit for some extra sweetness.
    • Use red pepper flakes in any dish to bring on the heat and a unique flavor.
    • Use fresh garlic and garlic powder instead of adding salt – you can use garlic in practically anything!
    • Make homemade soup with low-sodium broth and use herbs and spices for flavor instead.
    • Top salads with basil and oregano – you may find you don't even need salad dressing anymore!

    There are so many substitutions like this that help pack food with flavor and make them healthier for our bodies.  It is so important to savor the flavor of the foods that we love and to make sure they are still good for us.  So, remember during March – National Nutrition Month – and all year long, to take the time to appreciate the flavor of your food, the experiences, and the food traditions that make you happy! 

    Check out our Homemade Salsa Fresca recipe that showcases how to flavor food in a healthy and mindful way.  Enjoy!

    ​Written by Allison Haring, CFT, MS, RD, Great Lakes Regional Dietitian


  • Parents: Promoting Digital Citizenship
    March 14, 2016 Comments(0)

    ​The second part in our series on cyberbullying awarness and prevention strategies supports parents and caretakers in promoting good digital citizenship habits for children. Our expert partners at Prevent Child Abuse America have provided real, practical advice for building great digital citizens:

    As parents, it is critical to teach your child about digital citizenship.    Your children are being raised in a digital world.  Schools are increasingly incorporating technology into the classroom and even toddlers are watching videos and playing games on tablets.  As a result, younger and younger children are becoming comfortable with mobile devices.   With that comfort comes the need for responsibility. The following are some tips for encouraging cyber safety.

    ​As soon as your child begins to use devices with Internet access, you should provide them with clear guidelines for usage.  Encourage them to:

    • Keep personal information and passwords private, even from their close friends.
    • Post only words and pictures that they feel comfortable with others seeing, even if they believe they are in a private domain.
    • Avoid sending messages when they are angry. Ask them to consider how they would feel as a recipient before they click send.
    • Hold back from responding to cyberbullying behavior. Save the information and show a parent or another trusted adult.
    • Serve as an ally to friends or other students who experience cyberbullying by sharing with you or another trusted adult.


    After you have established family rules for technology usage, it remains important to monitor online behavior and protect their safety.  Consider adopting and adapting the following rules as your children grow:

    • Keep the computer in an open space where your child will be supervised. 
    • Set limitations on accounts and passwords.
    • Examine their social media sites and other technology to make sure they do not share personal information or inappropriate content.
    • Review your child's "friend list" on a regular basis and ask your child how he or she knows each person on the list

    If your family lives far from relatives, your children can use technology to maintain relationships with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Skype and Face Time offer accessible alternatives to being together in person and can strengthen ties in between visits.  

    To continue promoting positive digital citizenship, share examples of how you use social media.  Make sure your children are aware when you post and share upcoming events in your neighborhood or community issues you believe need to be discussed. Use social ​media to discuss topics you are passionate about. Join groups or like pages on books, film, sports teams, music, businesses, politics or anything else that matters to you. You might demonstrate your viewpoints by adding a filter representing a social issue to your profile picture. For example, the French flag filter has been used to demonstrate support for victims of the Paris attacks.

    As parents, you can also offer opportunities to reinforce technology practices introduced in school. When your children ask questions about breaking news, help them use social media to find up-to-date information and search for "hashtags" (represented by  # symbol) that correspond with news stories.  When they have research to complete for school projects, you might help younger students navigate the Internet to find articles. 

  • Wake Up to School Breakfast!
    March 7, 2016 Comments(0)

    ​It's National School Breakfast Week, and we are thrilled to celebrate our favorite way to wake up each morning: with school breakfast!

    Ayn Yeagle MS, RD and Chartwells K12's Northeast Regional Dietician shares with us some advice on the most important meal of the day:

    We’ve all heard it growing up: ”Eat your breakfast, it’s the most important meal of the day”. 

    But is it true?  The answer is easy to understand if you look at the actual word.  Breakfast literally means ‘breaking the fast’.  Every night your body goes into fasting mode after you stop eating for a certain period of time.  Breakfast restarts your metabolism and gets your body to burn calories and breaks your overnight fast.  When you don't eat breakfast your body thinks you're not going to feed it and will hold onto calories. 

    The golden rule of eating a healthy breakfast is to choose at least three food groups, because whatever you eat, your body is going to use as fuel. 

    But it’s not just about how much you eat, it’s also about what you eat.  The key is to choose nutrient dense foods high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein and even healthy fat.  People who eat better, feel better. 

    And that’s where school breakfast comes in. Breakfast in a Chartwells café has been developed by chefs and dietitians who emphasize taste and flavor while ensuring each student receives a healthy, balanced meal.

    Chartwells cafes are transforming breakfast for our students.  Appealing to their on-the-go lifestyle, students can grab a protein packed smoothie, yogurt parfait, oatmeal with milk and fruit or a whole-grain egg and cheese breakfast sandwich or burrito with a piece of fresh fruit and be on their way to class and friends. 

    Many of our partners have also gone beyond traditional breakfast in the café and offer alternatives to reach more students such as breakfast in the classroom (BIC) and grab ‘n go.  These options allow us to reach students who do not come to the café in the morning, may run late or prefer to eat on the run.  To that end, many of our school breakfast programs have seen a significant increase in student engagement and satisfaction since initiating a grab ‘n go and BIC.

    If you don’t like a traditional breakfast, think outside the box! Breakfast can be any food you enjoy.  Talk to your local school café manager about other options your school food and nutrition department can add to the menu.  Also don’t be afraid to experiment at home and bring your ideas into the café to see if they can be incorporated into your school breakfast program.

    Happy National School Breakfast Week!

    Written by Ayn Yeagle, MS, RD, Northeast Regional Dietitian

  • Cyberbullying: Get The Facts
    March 8, 2016 Comments(0)

    ​This year, Chartwells K12 and Prevent Child Abuse America are partnering to educate students, parents and the community on strategies to #JustStandUp to Cyberbullying. Over the next several weeks, we will share tips and tools to help you and your students navigate this rising source of bullying behavior. But first - let's talk facts. What is cyberbullying and who does it impact?

    With most youth receiving their first smartphone by the age of 11 and teenagers spending, on average, 10 hours a day in front of a screen – smartphone, desktop, tablet or gaming device cyber safety has risen to become a primary health concern for parents.  In addition to using the Internet for school research, the majority of adolescents use social media to stay connected with friends and to learn what is happening in their friends' lives.

    While the number of children and youth reporting victimization by cyberbullying remains lower than those reporting bullying by a more traditional method,  (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) the use of social media signifies the aggression has the potential to spread anonymously beyond the classroom, cafeteria, or locker room to a much wider audience.[1]

    According to the National Cyberbullying Research Center, any form of electronic technology used to harass, harm or intimidate can be considered cyberbullying. Among the various methods that cyberbullies use include:

    • Sending negative messages over text, email or a social media account
    • Spreading rumors over the Internet
    • Displaying hurtful messages online about another individual
    • Stealing account information to post damaging material as another person
    • Taking or circulating unwanted pictures of an individual[2]  

    The highest reported method of cyberbullying is through spreading rumors online (19.4%), followed by mean or hurtful comments online (12.8%).[3] Research also indicates that girls are more likely to be cyberbullied than boys, with 38% of girls reporting cyberbullying as compared to 26% of boys reporting these same behaviors.[4]

    Cyberbullying can result in a variety of short and long-term physical and mental health consequences. In addition to potential changes in sleep and eating patterns, youth who experience bullying often experience a loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy, as well as increased feelings of sadness and loneliness and in severe cases, depression and anxiety.

    Over the coming months, Chartwells and Prevent Child Abuse America will provide you with concrete strategies to make sure your students remain safe in the digital world and to help you promote positive digital citizenship.

    And don't forget to visit our Facebook​ page for additional information and resources!



    [1] ConnectSafely.org

    [2] Brohl, K. (2015). Identifying and addressing cyber bullying. Social Work Continuing Education, pp. 57-73. Retrieved from SocialWork.EliteCME.com

    [3] Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. (2015). Cyberbullying victimization 2015. Cyberbullying Research Center. Retrieved from http://cyberbullying.org/2015-data/cyberbullying-victimization-2015-2/

    ​[4]  Lenhart, A. (2007) Cyberbullying. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2007/06/27/cyberbullying/?utm_expid=53098246-2.Lly4CFSVQG2lphsg-KopIg.0&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pewinternet.org%2F2007%2F06%2F27%2Fmethodology-106%2F

  • Join Chartwells K12 and Prevent Child Abuse America in Becoming an Upstander
    February 15, 2016 Comments(0)

    ​Chartwells K12 and Prevent Child Abuse America teamed up in 2015 to prevent peer abuse, commonly known as bullying, where it often takes place: the café. Through comprehensive training programs, the pair has impacted schools across the country!

    The partnership with Prevent Child Abuse America has brought training and awareness to our school teams and created allies from 2500 associates who work and live in the communities we serve. Training programs conducted with Prevent Child Abuse America local chapters throughout the year emphasize awareness and recognition of bullying behaviors as well as introduce strategies and tactics to reinforce positive behaviors in students and support reporting mechanisms within school districts. As a result, our teams feel more empowered to recognize and prevent bullying behaviors in the café.

    In coordination with another Chartwells K12 partner, Hampton Creek, the trio launched 'Just Cookies' in April 2015 with positive messaging on packaging in support of bullying awareness and prevention. In addition, over $3500 was donated to anti-bullying efforts from a social, student-driven campaign that encouraged students to #justcookies with a photo. Each hashtag represented a $1 donation to anti-bullying efforts.

    But the collaboration won't stop there. Chartwells K12 and Prevent Child Abuse America are partnering in 2016 to focus on cyberbullying education, awareness and prevention. Over the next several months, Chartwells and Prevent Child Abuse America are launching a social campaign focusing on cyberbullying featuring blog and social media posts with education materials for students, parents and teachers. 

    Stay tuned for more information and be sure to 'like' our Facebook page for continued dialogue and unique features!


  • Interested in Starting or Expanding Your School Garden?
    November 10, 2015 Comments(0)

    We are excited to share the eat. learn. live. School Garden Program, a first-of-its-kind comprehensive resource developed in partnership between Chartwells K12 and KidsGardening.org. The program guides both our teams and educators through the process of successfully developing, growing, and sustaining school gardens regardless of space, climate, or resources they may have currently available.

    The eat. learn. live. School Garden Program is a detailed garden playbook loaded with instructive and creative gardening tips, nutrition education materials, and guidance for building community garden support. The guide was developed in partnership by Chartwells K12 and KidsGardening.org, a resource of the National Gardening Association, and brings together an unprecedented combination of gardening, nutrition and culinary expertise through a range of resources to help make impactful school gardens possible in any school.

    This is the latest in a series of materials developed through our exclusive partnership to help schools start, build and maintain their own on-campus gardens. Our partnership with KidsGardening.org is about more

    Whether you're thinking about starting a school garden, a seasoned gardening pro looking for new ideas, or just want a healthy recipe with a new take on nutrition education, there's something for you in the eat. learn. live. School Garden Program. Stay tuned for seasonal webinars dedicated to timely content and sections of the eat. learn. live. School Garden Program.

    Visit ChartwellsK12.com/SchoolGardens to learn more and to download our comprehensive eat. learn. live. School Garden Program, Garden 1, 2, 3 quick start guide and nutrition education materials.

  • Celebrating Great Childhoods in Washington DC
    October 16, 2015 Comments(0)

    On October 13 we joined Prevent Child Abuse America and their partner organizations to celebrate great childhoods with more than 1,000 Pinwheels of Prevention planted on the National Mall in a National Pinwheel Garden.


     In Washington DC, we have partnered with the Maryland Chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America to provide targeted bullying prevention and intervention training to café teams in DC Public Schools, and our students shared a “Garden of Gratitude” for the event featuring messages of support for great childhoods for all children across the country.


    We are proud to partner with Prevent Child Abuse America and our schools to take on bullying in our cafés and schools across the country through targeted training and student engagement. 



  • Simply Good Food Focus for September: Orange and Red Vegetables
    September 2, 2015 Comments(0)

    Orange You Glad I’m on your plate?
    The red and orange vegetable group includes carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, acorn squash, butternut squash, red peppers, pumpkin, and hubbardsquash and are full of vitamins A, C & K, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. The antioxidant beta-carotene is responsible for the orange hue, while red vegetables get their color from lycopene, also an antioxidant. All these nutrients aid in eye health, reduce the risk of certain cancers and illnesses, promote healthy joints and collagen formation, boost our immune systems and help build healthy skin. The health benefits of these colorful vegetables are endless!

    Be sure to aim for 3-6 cups of red and orange vegetables weekly to reap the benefits. Here are some great ways to get there:

    1. Carrots are a great snack with dips or dressings. Roast carrots in the oven to make carrot "fries". Blend carrots with pineapple juice, yogurt, and honey to make a smoothie.
    2. Munch on sweet potato fries by baking them in the oven or bake sweet potato waffles, pancakes or muffins! Drizzle maple syrup over diced, cooked and peeled sweet potatoes.
    3. Whole grain tortilla chips with salsa is a delicious way to eat tomatoes. Add salsa to scrambled eggs or an omelet! Add tomatoes to grilled cheese sandwiches, hamburgers & more.
  • Check Out Our Impact
    August 1, 2015 Comments(0)

    Created for Chartwells K12 students, JUST COOKIES is an all-natural, cholesterol-free great tasting treat that’s also good for the environment.

    With Hampton Creek and Chartwells K12, it’s about more than a cookie that tastes great. Check out our environmental impact:


  • Is School Lunch On Your Back To School List?
    August 4, 2015 Comments(0)

    Do you remember going back to school and having that imaginary checklist . . . outfit for the first day . . . schedule . . . friends to check-in with . . . school supplies?  Reflect back . . .  was school lunch ever at the top of your list?  . . . It should be! 

    School lunch isn't just a time for socializing and waiting for recess, it's a time to refuel and maybe learn a thing or two.  Through our eat. learn. live. philosophy, we strive to make every meal count. 

    • eat.  We focus on the 'good stuff' and not the bad.  Our menus are designed by Chefs and Registered Dietitians to ensure quality nutrition in every bite.  For example, all of our pizza crust, dinner rolls, biscuits and sandwich wraps are made with whole grains. Additionally, we understand that food preferences are evolving, and feature cuisines from around the world and vegetarian options with plant-based proteins. By making each meal colorful and flavorful, students get plenty of energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals to keep their minds sharp and bodies healthy.
    • learn.  We understand that food and learning are inextricably linked.  Providing our students with safe, delicious, appetizing and nutritious meals is our number one priority and inspires our kitchen teams to prepare enticing foods using top quality ingredients. We focus on a nutritious fruit or vegetable each month, featuring it on the menu and in educational materials throughout the café.  It is the focus of Chef2School events, culinary/nutrition demonstrations in the cafe, and lessons for the classroom.
    • live.  We are committed to protecting our environment. We purchase fresh, local produce; it's a win-win by supporting the health of students and as well as the local economy.  You can look on our monthly menus to see what seasonal fruits and vegetables we are serving up. We make it a point to source sustainable products whenever possible, like chicken and turkey raised without the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics, and milk and yogurt from cows not treated with growth hormone (rBGH). We help our schools build school gardens, even serving the harvest in meals, so students learn how food is grown.

    Now that you know what eat. learn. live. is all about and what we do every day to support our students, you can officially add school lunch to your back to school 'checklist'! We even have an easy way view our menus - just download our Nutrislice app (iPhone or Android) and find your school. You'll be able learn more about the meal program, see photos of each menu item, and have access to nutrition and allergen information too. See you at lunch!

    Ayn Yeagle MS, RD is the Northeast Regional Dietitian for Chartwells K12.