Des Moines Public Schools, in Des Moines, IA
Let’s just say, when you live in Iowa the No. 1 egg-producing state in the nation, you’re probably not averse to a little crowing in the morning. Eggs In Schools suspects that’s true with the Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) Food & Nutrition team.
Last year, the F&N team expanded their innovative ‘scratch’ cooking program from the district’s central kitchen facility. While they saw an increase in meal participation within the district’s 63 schools – it wasn’t enough. “We needed to do a better job of communicating the role of school nutrition in supporting students’ academic success and well-being,” said DMPS F&N Director of Food and Nutrition, Amanda Miller.
This realization led the team to rebrand their program last summer. The updated mission ties in with the vision by acknowledging a commitment to supporting the success of urban education by expanding student access to nutritious and delicious meals. This was distilled into a new tagline for the program – More than Meals – and a new logo, which are now being used to communicate about school nutrition to students and parents throughout the district.
In an effort to help the district market their school breakfast program to all stakeholders, customizable educational handouts and a poster were created to emphasize the importance of school breakfast in improving academic performance. See here for the downloadable Eat Better. Learn Better. with School Breakfast handout. Additionally, social media messaging was developed to support the new brand and promote the nutritious and delicious school meals.
Celebrating school nutrition
In recognition of the DMPS F&N team’s menu innovation and commitment to nutritional excellence in its Breakfast In the Classroom program, which features items with eggs and egg products, Eggs In Schools partnered with the district and the Iowa Egg Council to celebrate school nutrition in a two-day Eat Better. Learn Better. event in Des Moines. Eat Better. Learn Better. is an initiative of the American Egg Board that seeks to educate all the influencers in a child’s life – parents, teachers and school nutrition staff – about the importance of protein nutrition at breakfast to their well-being and academic success.
This is where the fun and notoriety kicked in. Because what’s a celebration without a larger than life egg-shaped mascot and a state dignitary or two? We kicked off the first day of the celebration with a Facebook Live led by Dayle Hayes where Amanda Miller, DMPS Director of Food & Nutrition & Executive Chef Chad Taylor debuted the new branding of their food and nutrition program. The celebration took place in one of the district’s elementary schools and was devoted to the students, highlights were a fun eggucational memory card matching game, Iowa egg agricultural facts, building a healthy breakfast with MyPlate in the school garden and yoga. STEM Shelly, one of the AEB’s egghead ambassadors, delighted students, and teachers with her enthusiasm for school nutrition, the nutritional power of eggs, and STEM subjects.
On the second day of the Eat Better. Learn Better. celebration, the district’s more than 300 school nutrition professionals gathered for a morning of educational training. Topics included the value of protein nutrition in school breakfast, understanding our changing school meals, and social media best practices to increase meal participation at school. Before the training, Iowa Governor, Kim Reynolds, and Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Julie Kenney, spoke to the group about their integral role in the academic success of students by feeding them healthy, nutritious meals. STEM Shelly and the governor bonded over their shared appreciation of science and math. To cap it all off, the Iowa Egg Council donated 33,000 eggs to the district – one for each student to support student nutrition.
P.S. Eggs at breakfast are a hit!
As a testament to the success of the team’s breakfast innovation efforts, the DMPS F&N executive chef received an email recently from one of the schools saying, “The kids are loving the scrambled eggs and were so excited today to see them. I can definitely see the numbers for this entrée going up!”
For the record, Des Moines Public Schools have more than 33,000 students. And on an average school day, 14,456 breakfasts, 21,845 lunches and 1,500 snacks are prepared by the food and nutrition team and served in the schools. Much of the school fare is prepared in the district’s Central Nutrition Center, overseen by Executive Chef, Chad Taylor, SNS.