WaveCrest Café Gets a BOOST: Presents at National Conference
September 14th, 2015
As the 2014-2015 school year draws closer to a close, CNS Director Brock Smith and his team show no signs of slowing down in their ongoing mission to, “change the face of child nutrition.” The year has seen a re-branding of VUSD cafeterias into WaveCrest Café. There has been continued attention to the quality of the food served as well as the personal experience of students and the WaveCrest Café teams at each school. WaveCrest Café has been featured in local media, and has even seen its efforts garner recognition across San Diego County, the state of California, and now, a national audience at the recent BOOST Conference in Palm Springs.
Smith recently attended and spoke at the national after school conference, BOOST, in Palm Springs, CA. Smith outlined the department’s efforts to, “change the face of school nutrition.” BOOST, which stands for Best of Out Of School Time, is the nation’s largest conference for out-of-school-time professionals. The conference attracted over 2,000 attendees from 46 states; professionals in education: teachers, administrators, font line practitioners from school districts as well as program providers such as the Boys & Girls Club, YMCA and other programs. It was there that he outlined his goal to: “change the face of school nutrition”. They key points of his demonstration were:
– A commitment to constantly finding and serving better tasting food.
– Invest in training and equipping our staff; we are the only team that has a chance to engage with every child, every day, so let’s make the most of that.
– Connect nutrition to the classroom.
– Connect with the community (Local events; local vendors; be present with community groups)
– Change the perception (marketing the food and experience to students, families and staff)
Tia Quinn, the Founder & CEO of BOOST Collaborative had this to say about Smith’s efforts and overall vision. “We are impressed with the innovative (and delicious) changes that have been implemented in the Vista Unified School District. Rethinking healthier ways to approach school lunches is a model that Brock Smith and his team are leading on behalf of our youth and we applaud their efforts.”
His presentation was especially well received by his peers in Child Nutrition. They were so inspired by his impassioned proposal on how to change the face of school nutrition they immediately asked him upon conclusion of his presentation if he was going to present at the California School Nutrition Association Services Conferences in November this year. “They all got it. They knew what I was trying to do right away.”
Growing the message within the Vista Unified School District has been a major initiative for Smith. Incorporating nutrition into the standard curriculum, Smith’s team conveys the idea that nutrition doesn’t have to taste bad to be good for you. “Amy Haessly, our Registered Dietitian, has been instrumental in this goal. She’s created cooking cards that kids can take home, and she’s the one who’s bringing nutrition into the classroom. We want to be part of the education process and Amy is making that happen.”
In her role as a state regional ambassador for Child Nutrition Service, Haessly has hosted other school districts for workshops and been involved with other collaborative work with her peers. That work often addresses the need to not only create awareness within the Vista Unified School District, but with other districts and communities. With an upsurge of 400 additional students enrolled in the lunch program this year, and overall student participating rising, its clear the message it hitting their target audience.
Smith continues to tout the quality and taste of the food, and the shift that his team has made from what many may remember or perceive as school food. “The food is dog-gone good, tasty and delicious! We have kids in high school that are suffering because they aren’t eating. It’s my job to try and get kids and parents to see that ‘school lunch’ is different now. And along with changing the face of the school lunch, I want this project that we’ve created to continue to be sustainable not just while I’m here, but after I retire or am promoted or whatever. I want someone to come in here and say ‘This is GREAT!’ and be able to lock into this and take off running and make it even better.”
Smith’s enthusiasm for childhood nutrition is infectious. The commitment to his community and developing a holistic approach to nutrition, education and a connection to the community is a stand out feature of Smith and his entire team.