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Students “Rock On” to A Healthier School Day across New York’s Southern Tier

Fifteen school districts in New York’s Southern Tier are leading the way in creating healthier school environments through its Rock on Café School Meals Program. Through Rock on Café, we’ve consolidated bids, recipes, promotions, and menus, and added a Registered Dietitian who provides nutrition expertise to the school meal programs. Numerous schools under this program have earned USDA HealthierUS Schools Challenge Awards through creating healthy menus and meeting the requirements for physical activity and nutrition education.

A main component of the Rock on Café is our partnerships with community agencies and organizations to provide nutrition education and healthier meals to students. Two of the partners include the Broome County Health Department and United Health Services “Stay Healthy Kids” Center. Through the Broome County Health Department, the Rock on Café has partnered to reduce sodium in school meals. By means of consolidated food procurement with specification for items and taste testing with students, sodium has been successfully reduced!

Students enjoy a healthy lunch at one of the Rock on Café locations! 

Local cartoonist Mason Mastroianni, who draws the B.C. Comic and Dogs of C-Kennel comic strips, helped us to create the Rex and Roxy cartoon characters to promote healthy eating through presentations, promotions, and recipe cards that captured students’ attention. Additionally, in partnership with UHS, the school menus are read by students in front of Rex and Roxy on the local television every school day!

Rex and Roxy greet elementary school students in New York’s Southern Tier. The characters were created by local cartoonist Mason Mastroianni.

To provide more local produce to students, the Rock on Café has received a two year Farm to School grant to provide GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) training to local farmers, to provide food safety training to food service staff to handle fresh fruit and veggies, and to create a process of extending the season by blanching and freezing local produce to use during the school year.

The success of healthy school meal programs is a collaboration of school food professionals and the community as they all value health in our nations' children.

See other blog posts in this series: