WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2016 – Under Secretary Kevin Concannon today announced a second phase of expansion of the Team Up for School Nutrition Success (Team Up) initiative, ensuring continued support for schools working to serve school children nutritious meals nationwide. Building on the momentum of the seven regional trainings held in 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service joined with the Institute of Child Nutrition at the University of Mississippi to offer all state agencies the opportunity to host local events to provide tailored technical assistance, support, and best practices for schools in administering successful meals programs. These events commence today in Utah as school nutrition professionals gather for two days of tailored training and peer-to-peer mentorship.
“USDA remains committed to providing state agencies the tools they need to facilitate sustainable, nutritious, and delicious school meal programs and empowering schools to maximize the benefits of the school nutrition standards in their cafeteria,” said Concannon. “Expanding the reach of the Team Up for School Nutrition Success initiative will help ensure our nation’s children get the healthy start they deserve.”
The Team Up training uses a peer mentor-based model to cover topics like menu planning, financial management, procurement, and strategies to reduce plate waste. Participants have the opportunity to learn from each other and make positive strides toward successful, financially stable school meal programs. During the training, each attendee develops an individualized action plan with focused goals to achieve when they return to their respective programs.
The decision to further expand the Team Up initiative was based, in part, on the overwhelmingly positive feedback received from participants of the 2015 regional trainings. For example, Charlotte Davis of Arkansas stated, “It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and you want to do new things, so [the training] gave me a lot of new ideas to take back to my staff to see how much of this we can use.” After the training, participant Bruce Davis of Virginia said he could now, “feel good about what I’m doing and what I want to do. [I can] go back and work on my goals. I will be successful.”
Today’s training is taking place in Layton, UT and is the first of over 40 trainings expected to occur throughout 2016. State agencies that have not already scheduled training can still participate by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. The Team Up initiative also offers monthly webinars on topics similar to what is covered in the trainings which can be found at http://theicn.org/teamup.
The Team Up for School Nutrition Success initiative is just one of many ways USDA helps schools successfully serve healthier meals. USDA also offers grants for professional standards training, cafeteria equipment, farm to school programs, and more. To further enhance the school nutrition environment, USDA provides nutrition education materials and curricula through the Team Nutrition initiative.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service administers America's nutrition assistance programs. In addition to the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, this includes the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Together these programs make up the federal nutrition safety net.