• 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!



  • 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

  • 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!