What is Rock on Café?
The Rock on Café program is proud to continue to offer kid approved recipes and products at an affordable price. This program is a service of Broome-Tioga BOCES and currently 15 school districts throughout Broome and Tioga County are participating. The Rock on Café program is designed by the cooperative effort of all of the Food Service Directors and a Registered Dietitian. The program was in development during the 2006-07 school year and officially started under the Rock on Café banner at the start of the 2007-08 school year. Currently, the main focus of the Rock on Café program has been in the elementary schools, but is expanding to middle and high schools. All 15 school districts participate in cooperative bidding, promotions, recipe development, and create standardized elementary menus for each month.
In 2009, the Rock on Café program was published in Health Promotion Practice, a publication of the Society for Public Health Education. The publication can be found here: http://hpp.sagepub.com/content/10/2_suppl/100S.full.pdf+html
Who decides the lunch menu?
The Food Service Directors from all of the participating districts work together with the Registered Dietitian to plan the menu. Most importantly, all new products and recipes are KID TASTE TESTED before they are placed on the menu!
What are some of the current Rock on Cafe initiatives?
- Backpack Program
Teaming up with the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, the Rock on Café program runs a “Week of Caring” to collect food donations to support the Food Bank’s BackPack Program, which provides healthy, kid-friendly, and easy- to-prepare foods to children at risk of hunger over weekends and holiday breaks when they do not have access to free or reduced price school meal programs. During the 2009-2010 school year, the Food Bank’s Back-Pack Program served 19 school districts across the Southern Tier, reaching more than 1,220 children each week.
Partnering with the Broome County Health Department the Rock on Café program has implemented several breakfast promotions to expand breakfast and educate students that it is an important meal to start the day.
- Farm To School
Partnering with Cornell Cooperative Extension, several schools have worked with local farmers to provide fresh local products to schools on a consistent basis. All of the Rock on Café schools participate in Farm To You Fest by including local foods on their menus and advertising the benefits of local products.
- HealthierUS Schools
Across the Southern Tier 32 school buildings under the Rock on Café program have been awarded HealthierUS Scholol Challenge Awards from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for their achievement in creating a healthier school environment through nutritious meals, nutrition education, and physical activity. These awards are a voluntary certification initiative, where 5,524 schools are currently certified across the United States. Each school celebrated their success through a variety of celebrations at board meetings and with student at the schools. Additionally each school received a plaque, banner, and monetary award from USDA as well as local media coverage.
- School Gardens
Several schools across the Southern Tier have implemented successful school gardens. Other schools are in the planning process or just beginning school gardens. The gardens are used for nutrition education.
- Special Diets
With food allergies on the rise, the Rock on Café program has implemented a diet prescription form, which is completed by a licensed physician and returned to the Rock on Café Registered Dietitian who ensures that appropriate food substitutes are offered.
- Staff Training
The Rock on Café program has designed its own staff training to ensure consistency of good quality service, the safely of its employees, and the safety of the food prepared for students.
What is the role of the Rock on Cafe Registered Dietitian in the school lunch program?
Julie Raway, MPH, RDN, CDN, SNS, the Rock on Café Registered Dietitian, plays many roles in the school lunch program. She is involved with menu planning, and assures that monthly menus align with the federal regulations as well as the HealthierUS School Challenge standards. Julie is involved in recipe development activities, helping to create new recipes using the most nutritious ingredients possible. She also creates educational and promotional materials for the Rock on Café school districts across the Southern Tier. If you have nutrition-related questions, please use the “Ask the RD” feature on the Rock on Café website (www.rockoncafe.com) and be sure to “like” the Rock on Café Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/RockOnCafe).