WASHINGTON, Sept. 6, 2016 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service today awarded $6.7 million in grants during the back to school season to expand and enhance training for school nutrition and child care professionals working to support healthy environments for our nation’s youth. Fourteen state agencies were given awards – eight working toward improving school nutrition through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program and six focusing on nutrition at facilities participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
“I can think of no better way to celebrate students going back to school than to ensure the health and wellbeing of our children through the Child Nutrition Programs,” said Kevin Concannon, USDA Under Secretary for Food Nutrition and Consumer Services. “USDA is committed to supporting the school nutrition and child care professionals who continually raise the bar by providing children with nutritious, tasteful meals and creating an all-around healthy environment for them to learn and grow.”
The training grants are awarded as part of USDA's Team Nutrition initiative, which provides resources, training, and nutrition education resources for the child nutrition programs. Since its inception over 20 years ago, Team Nutrition has provided approximately $97 million in grant funds to state agencies that administer USDA Child Nutrition Programs. The 14 states receiving grants include:
This year, a portion of these grants included a focus on training providers participating in CACFP, which serves more than 4 million children and adults nutritious meals and snacks each day through child and adult care institutions and family or group day care homes. Earlier this year, USDA issued a final rule updating the CACFP meal patterns to better reflect the recommendations of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and foster healthy habits early.
These grants are just one of many ways USDA is supporting healthy school environments during the back to school season. USDA created a Back to School Toolkit to help schools share information with parents and families about the importance of nutrition and physical activity for children’s learning, growth, and health. Other recent improvements to child nutrition programs include:
- Improving the nutritional quality of food served in schools to reflect recommendations from the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans;
- Announcing four final rules that implement important provisions of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act building on the progress schools across the country have made;
- The rapid growth of farm to school efforts to more than 42,000 participating schools;
- Improvement of direct certification efforts with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to increase the number of eligible children enrolled in school meal programs;
- Implementation of national professional standards for all school nutrition employees who manage and operate the school meal programs;
- Expansion of the At Risk After School Meals Program to all states; and
- Implementing mentor-based training for school nutrition professionals through the Team Up for School Nutrition Success initiative.
To learn more about the accomplishments of USDA’s nutrition assistance programs over the last eight years, see the new infographic, The Impact and Legacy of USDA Nutrition Programs from 2009 to 2016. For more information about this year’s Team Nutrition Training Grant awardees as well as summaries of activities conducted by previous grantees, visit the Team Nutrition Training Grants Web site.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs. In addition to the NSLP, SBP, and CACFP these programs include Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the Summer Food Service Program among others, which together comprise America's nutrition safety net.