Williamsburg-James City County (WJCC) Public Schools Overview

The School Health Initiative Program (SHIP) is a partnership between the school division and the Williamsburg Community Health Foundation (WCHF) which funds SHIP.  More information about SHIP is available at www.wjccship.com.  One of SHIP’s program components is a partnership with Child Nutrition Services (CNS). The partnership goals relate to the following areas: cafeteria offerings, participation and consumption, nutrition education, marketing, and CNS staff training. Examples of best practices in these areas (made possible through both WCHF funding and CNS support) include:

Cafeteria offerings, participation and consumption:   WJCC schools offer salad bars in all 3 high schools.  When the salad bars were introduced, consumption of salads increased from an average of approximately 19 salads per week per school to a weekly average of over 200 per week. Numbers continue to increase as various promotions are offered, such as “Buy 9 Get 1 Free” Frequent Shopper Cards, Taco Salad Thursday, and Soup and Salad Specials (see photo of salad bar).

We offer a model vending program in our high schools.  Previously, various school stakeholders operated vending machines, some of which were non-compliant with the division’s School Wellness Policy.  CNS now offers refrigerated vending machines that offer only healthy snacks and meals that conform to the School Wellness Policy (see photo of vending machine).

Farm to school efforts have increased each year.  We have used local farms for Farm to School Week celebrations, for fall apple sourcing, and for special promotions throughout the year.  We now encourage CNS managers to order “local” vegetables from our usual produce supplier to keep distribution and costs (typical barriers for farm to school programs) in check. School gardens contribute herbs and limited vegetables for use in cooking clubs (see below).

The partnership has also positively impacted school meals. For example, brown rice and whole grain pasta and breads are regular staples of the cycle menus, fresh fruits and/or vegetables are on the menu every day, all dairy products are low fat, and legume based dishes are offered on a weekly basis. The SHIP Field Service Manager conducts taste tests of new recipes and products to promote participation.  FAQs about WJCC school lunches are available at:  http://www.wjcc.k12.va.us/content/schools/wjcc-lunch/PDF-files/FAQs%20About%20WJCC%20School%20Menus.pdf


Nutrition education, marketing, and CNS staff training: One of our most popular and effective nutrition education programs is a series of after school Cooking Clubs that teach over 400 students per year basic cooking skills and provide nutrition and healthy eating information  (see attached Power Point for cooking club details). Cafeteria managers teach the clubs that are coordinated by the SHIP Registered Dietitian.  Recipes from the clubs are available on the SHIP website.

In addition to implementing nutrition education programs and activities for students, the Registered Dietitian provides training to the CNS staff members who are potential role models for healthy eating. CNS cafeteria managers also receive the School Nutrition Association’s Healthy Edge training, a 10-hour training course on nutrition, school meals, and personal wellness. This helps them to understand and have buy-in to SHIP initiatives. (See photo of training.)

We have implemented Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign’s Chefs Move to School Program to provide nutrition education to the students and the staff.  Guest chefs have taught staff how to incorporate more legumes into recipes and have provided healthy cooking demonstrations for students, families, and the community.

High school students receive healthy eating and physical activity messages on HDTVs, while a captive audience in the cafeteria line.  Messaging includes “Survey says. . .” research facts, “Did you know. . .” questions and answers, and brief tips on a scrolling slide show.


Pam Dannon, EdM, RD
Registered Dietitian
School Health Initiative Program (SHIP)
Child Nutrition Services (CNS)
WJCC Public Schools
597 Jolly Pond Road
Williamsburg, VA  23188
Phone:  757.259.7186
Fax:  757.565.1462

Click on an image for a larger view: