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Making Nutrition an Animal Proposition

Making Nutrition an Animal Proposition

WINNER: WHITSONS CULINARY GROUP

ENTRY: NUTRITION SAFARI

THE BIG IDEA: Getting kids to eat their veggies and buy into the whole adult nutrition thing has never been an easy sell. It is a problem K-12 foodservice professionals struggle with every day, especially now that school nutrition is a cultural cause celebre.

Whitsons Culinary Group decided to get to the root of the problem by focusing on the youngest customers in a way they can understand and appreciate: with a series of cartoon characters that each represent a different but vital nutritional message. This is the crux of Nutrition Safari, which is supported by an array of visual aids ranging from banners and placemat activity sheets to character stationary for daily menus and site visits by the characters themselves as part of a nutrition education event. Whitsons has even created lesson plans around the characters' messages that are available to districts for use in their curricula.

Nutrition Safari is centered around six animal cartoon figures, each representing a different food group and a message focused on that food group. They were developed with the help of a graphic designer and instilled with kid-friendly personalities and simple-but-important mottos (“limit sweets whenever you eat,” “reach for your greens,” etc.) targeted to a very young audience, usually K-4, though it is available for Grades 5-6 if a school requests it. The program is now in place at all of Whitsons' more than 100 elementary school locations.

Recently, Nutrition Safari has expanded from focusing only on food groups to include materials on the importance of physical activity, proper rest and other health-related issues.

PROJECT TEAM MEMBERS:

John Whitcomb, FMP
vice president of operations

John Gersbeck, FMP
vice president of school nutrition

Holly Von Seggern
director of marketing and brand development

Jennifer Watson
director of communications

Erin Norton
director of recruiting

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