Tech Advances Boost Marketing Opportunities

In the June/July 2013 issue of School Nutrition, author Susan Davis Gryder provides an overview of social media marketing and how it works, in addition to offering some suggestions for how school nutrition programs can get on board by borrowing strategies from some major companies successfully reaching out to students and their parents.

School Lunch by Nutrislice App However, participating in social media marketing efforts is not without its challenges. With concerns about user age, the hours required to create content and police comments and unsupportive school policies, many school nutrition directors are opting against traditional social media venues, while still wanting to capitalize on the power of social media and other new technologies to engage an audience. One solution: the commercial service  Nutrislice. This technology company offers schools a way to design eye-catching menus and distribute them online, via tablet or smartphone, or in PDF format, complete with pictures and graphics. Its taste-testing app allows schools to collect data from tasters via kid-friendly iPhone or Android surveys and get immediate feedback and detailed data.

Nutrislice also offers Interactive Digital Signage, a tool that creates changing video content, including nutrition information, for display in the cafeteria. Brent Craig, SNS, school nutrition director for Douglas County School District in Castle Rock, Colo., says it’s inspired kids in his district to contribute their own content, from game highlights to video prom invitations, which run between nutrition-based videos.

In addition, 13 school nutrition programs across the country have partnered with Nutrislice to provide menus and nutritional data through the School Lunch by Nutrislice app. The participating districts will distribute their menus, as well as nutritional details and allergy information, via the app when the new school year begins in the fall. The School Lunch by Nutrislice app is available for  iPhone and  Android devices.

CUSD Food App

Along similar lines, Chandler (Ariz.) Unified School District (CUSD) recently has launched a menu app (CUSD Food) that is designed for the iPhone/iPod Touch and is compatible with the iPad. It is available for download via the  iTunes App Store. (An Android version is planned for later this year.) The app, designed to reach students, as well as their parents, features daily school menus with nutritional details, meal descriptions and allergy information.

Other features include access to student payment accounts so that parents can check balances and add money from the mobile device; real-time updates of the latest nutritional news, healthy eating tips and recipes; cooking demonstrations and recipe video viewing and the ability to sign up for notifications regarding menu changes and updates. "We have designed our app to add an additional level of engagement with our students and parents and to provide them with the nutritional information to make healthy choices," says CUSD Nutrition Supervisor Wesley Delbridge, RD.

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