USDA Announces Expanded Training and Technical Assistance for School Meals through its Team Up for School Nutrition Success Training Initiative
Washington, DC, October 15, 2015 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s Food and Nutrition Service announces the expansion of the Team Up for School Nutrition Success (Team Up) initiative with the addition of two trainings designed to help make the initiative a sustainable training program for advancing the school nutrition field.
“School nutrition professionals are on the front lines of ensuring America's school children have access to nutritious, appetizing meals; the importance of their work cannot be overstated,” said Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. “There is no better time than this week – National School Lunch Week – to celebrate the expansion of the Team Up for School Nutrition Success initiative, which will educate and empower school nutrition professionals nationwide.”
Over the past year, USDA's Food and Nutrition Service partnered with the University of Mississippi's Institute for Child Nutrition to host seven regional Team Up workshops to provide technical assistance and support to school nutrition professionals across the country. Based on the success of these trainings, USDA and the Institute will continue the Team Up momentum by hosting a consultant orientation in late October and a “train the trainer” session in November. Across the two sessions, up to 40 consultants and 100 state agency representatives will be trained on how to facilitate a Team Up workshop. This is in preparation for future expansion efforts which will make Team Up trainings available at the state level. The goal of the expansion is to bring customized Team Up trainings to all states and territories.
The seven original Team Up trainings were two-day, face-to-face regional workshops that used a research-based mentorship model to help school nutrition professionals share their challenges and solutions, identify strengths, and develop action plans to implement program improvements. Approximately 650 people attended the workshops, and over 4,000 tuned in to the Team Up Thursday webinars held each month. Across the board, feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive.
“I feel good about what I'm doing and what I want to do,” said Bruce Davis of Farmville, Va., who participated in one of the Team Up workshops. “[I can] go back and work on my goals. I will be successful.”
Over 95 percent of schools are meeting the updated nutrition standards resulting from the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. But, for those schools that need assistance, USDA is announcing this expanded training and technical assistance to ensure that all schools are able to get the support they may need – from peers who have successfully met the standards.
This week, USDA is celebrating National School Lunch Week, underlining the importance of school meals and recognizing the hard work and dedication of school nutrition professionals across the country. The National School Lunch Program is one of 15 nutrition assistance programs administered by USDA's Food and Nutrition Service, which together comprise America's nutrition safety net. Other programs include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Summer Food Service Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).