The School Nutrition Association of South Carolina always hosts an amazing conference, but this year was definitely my favorite that I’ve attended. I caught up with old friends, made new ones, enjoyed lunch with SNA President Gay Anderson (who we were so thankful to have in attendance!) and taught five (yes, five!) education sessions. I felt very honored to have been in attendance and played an active part in the conference.
But I learned just as much as I taught in Myrtle Beach, and I hope you’re as inspired as I am by these school districts doing amazing things to market their school meal program:
Marketing summer feeding programs to vacation bible schools and daycare centers. Kelly Blevins of Lexington School District One had success marketing their summer feeding programs with flyers at local churches and daycare centers. It allowed the VBS and daycare staff to not worry about food for the day and increased summer feeding participation for Lexington One. Kelly is an extremely creative and energetic cafeteria manager, and I hope to bring you more of Kelly’s great ideas in future blog posts. (Side note: you may recognize Kelly’s name from the School Nutrition Professionals Facebook Group – I know I did! If you’re on Facebook and not a member of this Group yet, be sure to join and you’re sure to see some of Kelly’s awesome posts!)
A “Guess the Number of Items in a Jar” game was an unexpected hit. The team at Bethany Elementary School at Clover School District attended one of my education sessions, and I was so glad they stayed behind to chat after the class, because they shared two of my favorite tips I learned at the conference. They host a “guess the number” of items in a jar game each year and the class that guesses closest without going over wins a prize. But what they didn’t expect was how much the teachers would engage with the idea! Many turned it into a teaching lesson, with the jar’s items counted and used to practice arithmetic after the contest was over. And we all know how helpful it is to have faculty support for your lunchroom promotions!
Using Facebook Ads to recruit team members. Joe Pettit of Charleston County School District is doing lots of amazing things in Charleston and was even featured in the first edition of our Kind of a Big Dill series. But while catching up with him in Myrtle Beach, I also learned that CCSD has had success attracting new hires using Facebook Ads. Facebook Ads are extremely simple – you have to have a Facebook Page, then choose your audience, caption, picture(s) and the call to action, and you’re up and running! And best of all, they can be extremely inexpensive. My tip: create two ads and make one significant difference between the two, such as audience age, the picture you use in the ad or the photo caption. Just put $10 to each ad and see which one outperforms the other. Then you can proceed with putting more to the more successful campaign. (Also, if you’re ever in need of a keynote or conference session, I highly recommend Joe!)
Use a shower curtain as an easy photo booth backdrop for special events. Like I said, Sara Adams and the team at Bethany Elementary School Cafe had some awesome ideas, including creatively and inexpensively building a photo booth sdairporttransport.com. Check out this beach shower curtain they used for a photo booth backdrop! What I also love about this is it folds down small for easy storage to be saved for future events.
Using Twitter to engage local news outlets. I’m so embarrassed to say this, but I have shared this next tip at least a dozen times without remembering where I originally heard it. And it turned out it was from my very dear friend Ashley Summers, Marketing Coordinator at Lexington School District One. (Seriously, what is the matter with me!? #facepalm) But the tip is pure gold: in Ashley’s #ANC19 session, she shared that she uses Twitter mostly to attract the attention of local news outlets maid this. She uses Facebook to engage with parents, Instagram for students, and when she tags local news outlets from their Twitter account, they are more likely to visit their schools or share their Tweets. Twitter may be going down in numbers, but Ashley proves that if used strategically, it can be effective!
And a special mention to the Chopped Competition held on the Exhibit Hall floor during the conference! It was extremely cool to see the creative – and yet standardized – recipes that the teams created.
Up next… the SNA of Connecticut Conference on November 15, 2019! Stay tuned for the Top 5 Tips I learn from Foxwoods, CT!
The Kitchen Sink of Links… the best resources from this blog post:
- Lexington School District One Food and Nutrition Services on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
- Bethany Cafe Rocks on Facebook
- The SNA of SC Chopped Competition
- Charleston County School District Nutrition Services on Facebook
- Joe Pettit Inspires website, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube
- School Nutrition Professionals and TIPS for School Meals that Rock Facebook Groups