New Jersey natives are known for big, bold attitudes. Think Frank Sinatra. Think The Boss. Now you have a glimpse into the energy and enthusiasm of Crystal DeCaro. As the Food Service Director at Lacey Township School District in Ocean County, New Jersey, she had to pivot and adjust to keep her students fed during this difficult year. With the district serving a total of six schools and 4,100 students, what’s her secret ingredient to being such a superstar? Positivity and perseverance, of course.
Having General Mills’ ready-to-serve favorites on the menu means that she can focus more energy on personal touches to boost excitement and participation in the district’s grab-and-go breakfast carts. One way she does this is including individualized motivational messages on bags and products to get each student’s day off to a positive start. “General Mills is amazing when it comes to pre-packaged items,” Crystal says. “We just throw them in the warmer, and they stay warm for whenever the kids need them!”
The More Options, The Better.
“I want to be very inclusive for a variety of diets, so I will usually do a plant-based option on Mondays,” Crystal tells us. “Even if students are solely meat eaters, I like to encourage them to try something out- of-the-box.” Options are key at Lacey Township, which has three separate breakfast and lunch options that change daily. And the creative hits just keep coming. You’ve heard of breakfast for lunch? Crystal’s district flip-flopped it. “We tried the new Cheesy Pull-Aparts to do as lunch for breakfast. The kids loved the change of pace.”
Part of being creative is making things easy for parents, too. To help busy families stay ahead of the curve, Lacey Township created pre-order forms for parents to select meals ahead of time. “I worked with our AV department to create a video tutorial on how to use the form.” Crystal says. “We wanted to make sure that it was easy for anyone to understand.”
What Does the Future Look Like?
Crystal plans to continue the grab-and-go hallway breakfast carts at all her schools. “We’ve tracked our breakfast participation and it’s up by 78%,” she says. “Easy breakfast options get the students excited and provide a nutritious way to start the day.” With a truly “Trayblazing” year under her belt, Crystal is clearly The Boss of her district.
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