The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Team Nutrition Training Grant (TNTG) program began in 1995 to assist students participating in the National School Lunch Program (NLSP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) in making healthy food choices and to improve the nutritional content of meals and snacks served by programs receiving Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) funding. The grant funding provided to state agencies in support of these programs is intended to be used for training, technical assistance, and nutrition education to assist schools, child care settings, summer meal sites, parents or caregivers, and children to align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
In September 2016, FNS awarded Team Nutrition Training Grants to 14 state agencies that administer the USDA's NSLP, SBP and CACFP. (Ultimately, 13 states participated.) Eight states received grants focused on school meals programs, and five states focused on providing training to providers participating in CACFP in child care centers and family day care homes.
This TNTG cohort was different than previous cohorts because, for the first time, grantees were asked to outline a plan to evaluate some or all of the interventions they would implement with grant funding. In order to support this evaluation, they were asked to partner with a social scientist, and FNS provided technical assistance for evaluation.
In fiscal year 2016, FNS conducted an evaluation of the interventions. The research objectives were:
- Identify and describe the interventions as planned and implemented.
- Collect and summarize characteristics of the intended and actual sites and audiences for each intervention for each state.
- Determine and respond to grantee needs for evaluation-related technical assistance.
- Summarize and analyze the evaluation metrics collected by grantees.
- Develop recommendations for both (a) an evaluation framework that grantees can implement to measure the effectiveness of their efforts and (b) an evaluation strategy for rigorous impact evaluations of a subset of grantees and their activities.
The report includes broad findings from the grants, lessons learned from the experience, and recommendations for accommodating future evaluations in the grant program. It also contains a comprehensive appendix that summarizes all evaluated interventions and the findings of those evaluations by state agency.