i-Three Issue Corps – Using Facebook EFFICIENTLY…What We Finally Figured Out

Farm to School… Hmm… 

Young girl holding a cherry tomato

Our Theory: Efforts to promote healthy eating can’t succeed without considering food production, distribution and marketing. Likewise, agriculture cannot be profitable without attention to consumer interest and needs.

Our Dilemma: Schools are ideal environments to foster healthy lifelong behaviors. Yet, despite interest, relatively little local produce is used in school cafeterias, due to distribution, convenience and cost factors.

Our Team: We’re FCHS – the Family & Community Health Sciences Department with Rutgers Cooperative Extension. We promote healthy families, schools and communities. Our Grow Healthy school wellness initiative applies a garden-enhanced approached to wellness. We combine gardens, food systems, food, nutrition and movement to bring wellness to life at school. From classroom to cafeteria, our goal is to create a healthy school environment.

We’re working with foodservice, farmers, administrators, teachers and families to identify opportunities to improve school wellness environments. That’s a lot of people! And there’s a LOT of information to share. Whether it’s promoting a new training, announcing the availability of a new youth program or recruiting farmers and foodservice employees to support a new food initiative, getting the message to your audience is challenging.

Social (Media) Struggle: Facebook is the social media platform that seems to best reach our target audience. But, with reports that post reaches range from a mere 6.5% – 16%, we struggled with how to use this tool to our advantage.

Problem Solved!! We needed to find a way to make Facebook work better for us. We write our own posts and manage our own pages – in addition to our standard job duties. General page posts weren’t effective at communicating programmatic information and resources to our target audience.

So…we continue to use our Facebook page to post general and supplementary information. But, a more popular and effective tool has been our new Facebook GROUP. We invite members and they recommend others who have a specific, distinct interest in our project, programming and resources. For us, a Facebook group has been a much more efficient and effective tool to support programming.

What Are We Promoting? Currently, we’re promoting our 2016-2017 professional development program schedule. Check it out: http://gloucester.njaes.rutgers.edu/fchs/pdfs/2016-2017-Training-Summary-Brochure.pdf.