Success Stories

Big Spring ISD Makes the Most of Great Grant Opportunities

Since 2015, Food Service Director photo of tasting booth at Big Spring ISDJudi Rodriguez has used more than $100,000 in state and federal grant funds to enhance Big Spring Independent School District’s (BSISD) school nutrition marketing. The grants enabled the district to significantly upgrade high school serving lines and purchase carts for serving and displaying fresh fruits and vegetables. BSISD also used funds from local partnerships and GoFundMe to establish gardens that generate food for the program and lessons in agriculture for the students. Finally, the district was able to put the Healthier US School Challenge (HUSSC) award funds to good use as well.

Here’s a look at the grants received and how they were used:*

  • Expanding the 3E’s — A Texas Department of Agriculture grant of $28,000 received in the fall of 2015 was used to purchase carts to showcase fresh fruits and vegetables each month (photo). Costumes purchased for staff complement  the carts.
  • USDA National School Lunch Program Equipment Assistance Grant — BSISD received an $80,000 equipment grant in 2015 and they used it to revamp all serving lines at the high school. They also got new hot wells, an ice cream freezer and a merchandiser for each line.
  • Healthier US School Challenge Awards — Award funds enabled the district to purchase smart TVs for HUSSC award winning schools. 
  • GoFundMe and local partnerships —  The idea for tower gardens grew out of the fresh fruit and vegetable carts purchased with the 3E’s grants. In 2016 BSISD funded the gardens using $5,000 in funds obtained through the GoFundMe website, $1,000 from the city of Big Spring, and $2,000 through Make Big Spring Beautiful. Rodriguez said she stumbled on GoFundMe as she researched available grants.

There are now 12 gardens in the district and several classes are incorporating produce from the gardens in their curricula. Rodriguez is looking forward to new endeavors in the coming school year. She has already signed up to participate in TDA’s Local Products Challenge. Schools are encouraged to sign up for the challenge at SquareMeals.org/LocalProductsChallenge. For more information about grants visit the TDA grants page here.

*Information provided by Big Spring ISD and ESC Region 18. Posted July 26, 2017

Magnolia ISD Recognized for Taking Steps to Increase Participation

The Magnolia ISD Child Nutrition Department  Good salad bar at Magnolia ISDhas increased participation for both breakfast and lunch using fresh foods, new menus and an emphasis on presentation. The Texas Association for School Nutrition presented the district with awards for increasing breakfast and lunch participation by 10 percent or more. Actual increases were 13 percent for breakfast and 15 percent for lunch in the 2016-2017 school year as compared to 2015-2016.* 

Executive Director of Support Operations Joe Dives attributed the increase to revised menus that included farm fresh produce from Texas. Child Nutrition Director Kimberly Ohlendorf added that improved displays and redesigned lunchrooms also contributed to the excellent participation rates. Installing salad bars at all schools has been important as well.
Good fruit cups at Magnolia ISD“We did more taste testing and we are getting the highest quality products we can, like whole muscle chicken,” Ohlendorf said. “It does cost more but it seems to appeal more to kids.”

At TASN’s summer conference, Magnolia ISD also received the Nutrition Education Award for a Single Site during the 2016-17 school year. The award recognized Field Supervisor Nancie Rutledge for her work providing students with materials needed for an indoor vegetable garden at Nichols Sawmill Elementary. 

*This article was supplemented with information from the Houston Chronicle and the Magnolia ISD website.

Posted July 26, 2017
2016 National School Lunch Week Successes
During National School Lunch Week 2016, students across Texas had the opportunity to "Vote for a Winning Lunch." The Texas Department of Agriculture developed ballots, a ballot box and other resources schools could use to encourage students to declare victory for good nutrition.
Commissioner Miller Visits Alice ISD for National School Lunch Week  Maximize 

School Lunch Candidates Debate at Copperas Cove ISD  Maximize 

School Lunch Candidates Hit Campaign Trail in Judson  Maximize 

2015 National School Lunch Week Success Stories
In October 2015, schools across Texas used the Texas Department of Agriculture theme "Discover the Great Plate of Texas with a Healthy Lunch"  to successfully introduce students to local products during National School Lunch Week, Farm Fresh Fridays and Local Products Challenge events. Success stories here and on the Farm Fresh Fridays pages show the innovation and creativity Texas schools use to introduce students to healthy meals.
Magnolia ISD Helped Students Discover Healthy Texas Foods  Maximize 

Coppell ISD Serves up Fun with Food Art, Local Products  Maximize 

2014 National School Lunch Week Success Stories

Texas students celebrated National School Lunch Week (NSLW) 2014 during the week of October 13-17 with the theme “Score Big with a Healthy Texas Lunch.” Across Texas, NSLW and the Texas Department of Agriculture's Local Products Challenge created excitement about school meals and Texas products. Success stories from the 2014 NSLW are featured below and more will be added. Please submit success stories to Walter Brewer by sending an email to Walter.Brewer@TexasAgriculture.gov.

Magnolia Students Celebrate the Tastes of Texas During NSLW  Maximize 

Eagle Mountain-Saginaw school gets Rowdy for NSLW  Maximize 

Texas Pumpkins Take Center Stage at Sanger ISD NSLW Celebration  Maximize 

Special Guests Help Lackland ISD Serve Tasty School Lunches  Maximize 

2013 NSLW Success Stories
The schools featured below were included in the School Nutrition Association magazine's coverage of the 2013 National School Lunch Week celebration. Read about last year's National School Lunch Week successes from school districts across Texas.
Anthony ISD Lassoes a Texas-Size Celebration  Maximize 

Raymondville ISD Students Extend NSLW Celebration by Decorating Texas Grown Pumpkins  Maximize 

Round Rock ISD Features Tasty Texas Foods for NSLW  Maximize 

Harlingen CISD Shines During National School Lunch Week  Maximize 

Special Guests Serve Up NSLW Fun at North East ISD  Maximize 

Copperas Cove ISD Shows Texas-Size Enthusiasm for NSLW  Maximize 

La Vernia ISD Hosts Long List of NSLW Events  Maximize 

Glen Rose ISD Students Explore New Foods for NSLW  Maximize 

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