Customers Drive School Meal Choices at Cloverleaf

Students are our customers.

This simple phrase sums up how the Cloverleaf nutrition staff approaches their work. The team works hard to offer appealing menu items, as well as engage their customers in decision-making and tasting processes.

During the 2015-16 year, the nutrition team was very busy. They updated the salad bar, offered monthly taste testings, implemented Tot Chef cooking classes, and added cold-water dispensers into the cafeteria. New signage was also added to help students navigate through the meal choices.


Ten students and their parents participated in the six-week Tot Chef program.

Location, Location, Location

In smarter lunchrooms, healthful items are offered in strategic locations. First in line and in a busy traffic pattern are two prime spots. To take advantage of the location, Food Service Director Carrie Beegle moved the salad bar, from a sidewall position, into the center of the high school cafeteria. In the new location, students must pass the salad bar to get to the cashier.

  • The results were positive; fruit and vegetable selection increased by 300%.

Entrée items were also reordered in the line. Beegle moved the homemade entrée of the day, called Kitchen Sync, to the first position in the serving line. Students now select the healthiest entrée twice as often as the pizza. This was an easy change with huge results!

Gotcha Sriracha at the Middle School

The middle school Student Food Service Committee participated in cooking lessons and created their own spice blends. Students created spice blends named Gotcha Sriracha, Kickin’ Colt and Jamaican Me Crazy.

“Herb blends were a big hit with all our students,” raved Beegle. “Students use them with everyday items to add instant flare and the salt requests have disappeared.”

Salad Bar Changes Reduce Waste

Elementary school students helped update their salad choices. A tray waste study revealed that 62% of the pre-made salads were wasted. The Cloverleaf Elementary staff added a salad bar to encourage students to select their own side item.

  • After the new salad bar was created, only 6% of the salad bar choices were discarded.

Staff handed out stickers to the elementary students when they had finished all their fruits and vegetables. The students were excited to receive the sticker.

Taste It Tuesdays and More

Like most taste events, Taste It Tuesday featured bite-size pieces of fruit and vegetable-based items, and students gave feedback on the taste. Taste It Tuesdays in Cloverleaf, though, featured a few very unique items:

Joyce’s Banana Freezes were a hit – 1,250 samples were gobbled-up by the students. The sampling, created by Cloverleaf’s head chef Joyce Meyer, was also featured in the Medina County Gazette.  Click here for the recipe.


Vegetable waste decreased when elementary students served themselves.

Add the USDA to Your Team Nutrition

Team NutritionWhat if we told you with one simple click you could have hundreds of FREE resources available at your fingertips? Recipes, menus, MyPlate materials, colorful stickers and posters, staff training programs – all delivered directly to your office or simply downloaded to your computer. Team Nutrition is available to guide your cafeteria project to success!

Team Nutrition

I’m sure you are wondering what exactly is Team Nutrition? This initiative is part of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, supporting the Child Nutrition Programs. Team Nutrition focuses on training and technical assistance for foodservice, nutrition education for children and their caregivers, and school and community support for healthy eating and physical activity.

Resource Bank

One of our main goals is to fill your resource bank with materials to aid in your nutrition initiatives. Three large categories of resources available through Team Nutrition are – Promotional Items, Menus and Recipes, and Curriculum and Education.

The following are resources recommended by Ohio Team Nutrition Coordinator, Susan Patton. Susan said it was hard to pick just three resources, but these are her current “go-to” materials:

  1. Try Day StickerMake Today a Try-Day Stickers – These fun stickers are great for reinforcing students’ willingness to try new food items! Use them with a taste-testing event or designate a day of the week as a “Try It Day”.
  1. Menus that Move – Menus that Move is a set of seasonal cycle menus that incorporate USDA new meal guidelines. Each seasonal cycle menu contains five weekly menus for grades K-8 and 9-12.

Garden Detective

  1. The Great Garden Detective Adventure – This is a standards-based gardening nutrition curriculum for grades 3 and 4. Through investigations and fun experiences, kids discover which fruits and vegetables are the sweetest, crunchiest, and juiciest! This resource is excellent for connecting the school garden to the classroom, school cafeteria, and home.

For hundreds of other resources, check out the Team Nutrition Healthy Meals Resource System. Take advantage of all that Team Nutrition has to offer. You’ll be amazed at what you might find!

Join the Team

Team Nutrition Schools focus attention on the importance of nutritious school meals, nutrition education, and a health promoting school environment. By doing so, students learn to enjoy healthy eating and physical activity. Team Nutrition Schools work together with school nutrition staff, teachers, parents, the media and other community members to encourage healthy behaviors. To learn more about Team Nutrition behavior focused strategies and school enrollment, follow the link below.

Become a Team Nutrition School!

The Lunch Tray

kids and food, in school and out

Live Healthy Live Well

Ohio State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences

School Meals That Rock

Featuring school nutrition programs that serve kids well

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