The Rock on Cafe “Rocks” in a Nationally Acclaimed Research Journal

BINGHAMTON, NY- The kid tested, parent approved “Rock on Cafe" led by Broome-Tioga Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) Food Service Program, with partial funding from the Broome County Health Department’s Steps to a HealthierNY program and support from a multitude of community partners was recently featured in the supplemental issue of the Society for Public Health Education’s (SOPHE) journal of Health Promotion Practice. This issue featured the work of several Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded community programs around the nation that have achieved remarkable success in policy, systems, and environmental changes to support health and reduce risk factors associated with chronic diseases.

The supplement, entitled "Fostering Healthy Communities: Lessons Learned from CDC's Premier Community-Based Interventions" is a compilation of eight peer-reviewed articles from three national programs funded by the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: Healthy Communities Program (formerly known as the Steps Program), Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH), and the YMCA of the USA's Pioneering Healthier Communities (PHC).

The Rock on Cafe, which was implemented in Broome and Tioga county school cafeterias, is showcased as a successful evidence-based school nutrition intervention designed to improve the health of children through stealth nutrition and to increase the purchasing power of schools through a unified regional food procurement initiative. This unified food bid system allows schools to purchase higher quality and healthier foods, such as whole grain products and more fresh and vegetables, at more competitive prices.

“Having a consolidated bid system also allows for a unified menu plan in all 15 school districts, which streamlines food service operations for our hard working food service managers and their staff, “states Mark Bordeau, Broome-Tioga BOCES Food Service Director.

Bordeau is one of three leaders in the Rock on Cafe program for Broome and Tioga Counties. Providing the technical nutrition support and marketing plan for the Rock on Cafe is registered dietician, Molly Morgan. Molly’s creativity catapulted the project quickly into fame with students, parents, and the community at large. “In just the first year of the project, we saw a 14% increase in the purchase of fruits and vegetables,” states Morgan. “This is a tribute to the support of the school and community,” she adds.

To complete the Rock on Cafe leadership trio is the recipient of the Center for Disease Control’s 2008 Steps to a HealthierUS Community Hero, Ray Denniston. Ray has been a leader in school food service for many years, working for the Johnson City School District, until his retirement last year. Ray currently contracts with Broome-Tioga BOCES Food Service Program and sits on the New York State Governor’s Food Policy Council. He has been a driving force for childhood hunger and nutrition programs. “Our children deserve to have good nutrition for a productive and healthy life,” says Denniston. “We understand there is link between hunger and academic performance,” he adds. 

The innovation of the Rock on Cafe story was captured by Broome County Health Department’s Steps to a HealthierNY Program Evaluator and Clinical Assistant Professor at Binghamton University’s Decker School of Nursing, Yvonne Johnston, MS, MPH, RN, FNP. The papers that were selected for publication provide stellar examples of communities that have successfully made environmental, policy, or systems changes to improve health. Through this publication, Johnston has brought national attention to the Rock on Cafe story, the efforts of Broome-Tioga BOCES, and the Steps to a HealtherNY Program in Broome County. Other communities can use the information in this article to replicate the intervention strategy and spread its success. “The article was a pleasure to write and the Rock on Cafe leadership and the Steps staff are truly amazing people,” remarks Johnston. “Submitting a manuscript for publication is a highly competitive process and the fact that this article was one of eight chosen for publication, was an honor,” she adds. Johnston presented highlights from the Rock on Cafe manuscript at SOPHE’s midyear scientific conference in New Orleans this past May.
The full contents of the article can be accessed on the internet at: For more information on the Rock on Cafe and the Steps to a HealthierNY program, please contact Mary McFadden, Supervising Public Health Educator at the Broome County Health Department, by phone  607.778.3929 or e-mail


06/11/2009 - 12:05pm