The USDA has announced $5.5 million in new grants to support schools in providing lunches and breakfasts that give children proper nutrition. More than 90 percent of schools are meeting new federal meal nutrition standards, serving meals with more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy, and less sodium and fat.
The grants focus on implementation of Smarter Lunchrooms strategies, a broad toolkit of practices designed to increase consumption of healthier foods and decrease plate wastethat was developed by Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs (BEN Center) with funding from the USDA and others. The grants are being released as part of USDA's Team Nutrition initiative, designed to support state-level child nutrition programs through training and technical assistance.
The Team Nutrition Training Grants for fiscal year 2014 will require state agency grantees to use the BEN Center's Self-Assessment Score Card to encourage schools in the National School Lunch Program to use Smarter Lunchrooms techniques and increase student choice of whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. These funds may be used to assist the state agency in providing training and technical assistance to school staff in creating Smarter Lunchrooms.