Make the Most of Your School Nutrition Magazine

In its May 2020 issue, School Nutrition looked at how school nutrition supervisors are working to keep staff connected and growing professionally when they are not assigned to assist with curbside/delivery meal prep and service (“Staying Engaged While Staying Away”). One tool in your arsenal is School Nutrition magazine!

We know that many readers keep their own “libraries” of print archives. For those who don’t, you have free access to the digital archives stretching all the way back to 2012! You can access these by visiting the SN archives page or when you are already reading one of the digital edition issues, click on the three-line “hamburger” menu in the upper left corner of the page and you will see the link to the archives.

Following are four suggested activities to explore or adapt with your staff members.

Test Yourself. Within the pages of nearly every recent School Nutrition is a “To Your Credit” article, with an accompanying 10-question quiz. These quizzes can be submitted for Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) toward the SNA Certificate Program (read the fine print to check limits and requirements), but you can also use them as an internal training and development activity. While some quizzes way back in the archive may contain outdated information, more recent articles include information on back health, best managerial practices, sports nutrition, beans and legumes and so much more. Note that CEU submissions for the Certificate program can only be less than five years old. For renewals, CEU’s must be completed during the renewal period.

When assigning to your employees, give the activity a competitive element. For example, every quiz that receives 100% score could be submitted for a random drawing to receive a small gift, such as a $10 gift card to a local restaurant. Or reward the school site team that turns in the most 100%-scoring tests. (Note: At this time, answer keys are available only to those who submit tests to SNA for CEU credit, but a director or supervisor should be able to create their own accurate answer keys for these quizzes.)

On the Hunt. Remember the “What’s Ruby Reader Reading?” scavenger hunts that appeared for several years in the June/July issues? Take a page from Ruby, and create your own scavenger hunt! Ask your team members to read through, say, three recent (or older) issues and identify articles (and advertisements!) that reference certain school nutrition concepts. Examples might include collecting all mentions of vegetables, team-building examples, cooking equipment references or Buy American citations. Task your team to find just one concept or multiple ones! They can work individually or in small groups—remembering social distancing, of course. You don’t even need an answer key—you could give a nominal prize to the person who finds (and documents) the most and organize a discussion about any references they found that were particularly noteworthy.

Create a “Book” Club. Conduct a monthly discussion of each issue of the magazine. You can start with some general questions/statements:

What was your favorite article this month?
What’s one thing you learned that you did not know before?
Identify something that you did not understand and would like to discuss as a group.
Is there an “idea worth stealing” that you read and would like to try? How might it work in your school or district?

If you are comfortable as a facilitator of this type of discussion, plan some questions around specific articles in each issue after you’ve read the magazine yourself. For example, the April 2020 issue included the Onsite Insight section for managers, assistant managers and employees and the topic was on how to close down kitchens and other facilities for a long break. You can ask managers if they already follow the suggestions for assigning tasks, if they work, why and why not. The May 2020 issue of the magazine include an article on preparing for the “next” big crisis. Were there tips you hadn’t considered before? Is everyone familiar with existing plans? How can your team improve in this area? Are there ideas that were not in the article that you should consider?

Jot It Down. Ask team members to start keeping an “Idea Journal.” Each individual should designate a small notebook or notepad specifically to record ideas that are worth further discussion or exploration on their own or with their site teams. Encourage a no-limit approach! Does a company advertisement inspire you to try a new product? Write it down. Were you impressed with the creative ideas of someone in a district thousands of miles away? Write their name and district down—later you can visit the school district website to find their contact information. Was there a website listed in the standing department This & That you want to investigate later? Make note of the name and page number.

To ensure that team members are following through on this activity, ask them to bring their idea journals to monthly meetings or periodic in service training. Suggest they report back on at least one idea that they recorded and later pursued.

Are you already using School Nutrition in creative training or team-building activities? We’d love to hear how you’re putting the magazine to use in this way. Write to us at and we may use your idea in a follow-up article.

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