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Benefits Of Team Nutrition Program 2023

Team Nutrition Program

Team Nutrition, an initiative of the United States Department of Food and Nutrition Service of Agriculture, which supports national efforts to promote lifelong healthy eating habits and physical activity by improving the nutritional practices of child nutrition programs. We provide resources for schools, childcare facilities, and summer meal sites that participate in these programs.

Overweight and obesity in childhood are among the most threatening health problems of our time. Schools and daycares have access to more than 95% of the nation’s young people through the National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and the Summer Meal Programs. The adult nutrition programs are called Senior Nutrition Programs which are only for the senior citizens of the country.

Together they feed more than 45 million children at a cost of over $20 billion a year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Many children get half or more of their daily calories and nutrition through some type of school or daycare, making these environments nutritional homes for many of these children.

Team Nutrition Program

Since the mid-1990s, advocates have sought improvements in the quality of food served in state child nutrition programs. During these years, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service established the School Meals Initiative for Healthy Children, which aimed to increase the nutritional value of school meals.

Team Nutrition
Team Nutrition

School catering staff needed training, resources, nutrition education and technical support to implement the changes.

To help school districts, parents, teachers and other community stakeholders understand the importance of the new nutritional standards, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service developed Team Nutrition, a multifactorial approach to promoting nutrition and physical activity.

Over the years, Team Nutrition, which is funded in its sole discretion by Congress and has continued to grow over the years, makes educational materials available free of charge to any school or program that requests them.

Schools can also enroll as “Team Nutrition Schools,” which puts them on a list of schools committed to providing good nutrition and healthy levels of physical activity.

Basis Strategies Of Team Nutrition

Team Nutrition uses three strategies to change behavior:

  • Provide training and technical support for child nutrition professionals so they can prepare and serve nutritiously Meals that appeal to children.
  • Increase nutrition education through multiple communication channels to provide children with the knowledge, skills and motivation to make healthy food choices and physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle.
  • Build support for healthy school and childcare environments that encourage nutritious food choices and physically active lifestyles.

Team Nutrition Training Grants

Team Nutrition also offers Team Nutrition Training Grants for states to implement and evaluate nutrition education, training, and technical assistance activities that support the application of USDA nutritional standards for meals and snacks used under children’s nutrition programs (e.g., National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast) program and CACFP). States must use the following three behavioral strategies from Team Nutrition in their proposals:

  1. Provide training and technical support for pediatric nutritionists to prepare and serve nutritious meals that are appealing to children.
  2. Increase nutrition education through multiple communication channels to help children develop the knowledge, skills and motivation to make healthy choices about food and physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle.
  3. Build support for healthy school and childcare environments that encourage nutritious food choices and physically active lifestyles.

Different Channels Of Team Nutrition

Team Nutrition uses a variety of channels to deliver its messages. These include the following:

  • Foodservice Initiatives. The cafeteria environment can reinforce nutritional messages and provide opportunities for students to put healthy choices into practice. Foodservice directors and employees can receive technical training or professional development to help them prepare and serve healthy food and promote healthy food among students by offering fruit and vegetable tastings and putting up signs near a school to messages like “Eat the Rainbow” to promote the value of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Classroom Activities. These allow students to practice nutrition skills with hands-on activities, songs, lessons, stories, cooking, or gardening.
  • School-wide events. These bring together students, teachers, school administrators, parents and others, uniting entire communities behind positive messages about nutrition and physical activity. For example, a grant can fund a family fitness night where students, parents, and school staff get together to exercise and eat healthy snacks.
  • Home Activities. When students bring home what they have learned in the form of literature, books or games, they can share it with their parents and whole families can learn and participate in healthy choices.
  • Commitment to the Community. Local farmers, chefs, nutritionists, cooperative advisors and others can help children learn about food and how to grow it.
  • Media Events and Coverage. Press releases, articles and other announcements, as well as the use of social media such as Twitter, help spread Team Nutrition’s messages to a wider audience.
Benefits Of Team Nutrition Program
Benefits Of Team Nutrition Program

Alicia White, MS, RD, director of nutrition education and promotion for the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, says the ideal grant application for Team Nutrition funding combines multiple communication channels as the more channels are used to convey nutrition and exercise messages to transmit , the more likely schools will be able to achieve real behavior change.

She explains that Team Nutrition’s key behavior change strategies include technical support and training for hospitality workers, nutrition education for students and caregivers, and creating a school environment that supports healthy behaviors.

School-Based Nutrition Programs

According to an October 2002 study by Kubik and colleagues in the Journal of School Health, there is ample evidence that school-based nutrition programs can influence children’s eating habits. In the 1990s, however, experts began to realize that getting children to eat healthily took more than just feeding them good food.

Studies began to emphasize the importance of multicomponent interventions that integrate classroom education, availability of healthy food in the cafeteria and on campus, family involvement, and community health resources. Recent research suggests these are the most effective at inducing positive behavior change.

As stated in the American Dietetic Association, Society for Nutrition Education, and American School Food Service Association position on comprehensive school health programs published in the April 2003 Journal of the American Dietetic Association, a healthy school environment is one that “encourages youth to develop the skills and the support they need to adopt healthy eating habits, achieve positive nutritional status, and achieve better academic success.”

Parents are another important stakeholder in school well-being. White emphasizes the importance of having parents on board to practice healthy habits. “We want to involve parents in nutrition education activities because the lessons learned at school can only be fully beneficial if the same messages are amplified at home,” says White. “Team Nutrition’s Serving Up MyPlate, Discover MyPlate, and garden-based resources all offer ways to involve parents, such as: B. Parent newsletters, ideas for family events and cooking activities.

Healthy School Environment and Wellness Policies

In the spirit of building healthy school environments, Congress passed the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004, which included a provision making it mandatory for schools participating in the National School Lunch Program to follow local school wellness policies up to the school 2006-2007 year to implement.

The purpose of the guidelines was to require schools to have their students, teachers, administrators and community stakeholders sit down and assess the health of their school food, their physical activity opportunities and the general health environment of the school. Wellness policies have shifted the focus from food quality to a broader range of factors that help promote healthy behaviors. The wellness policy should include:

  • Goals for nutrition education, physical activity and other activities to promote student well-being;
  • Dietary guidelines for school meals and for all foods available on school premises during the school day;
  • Assurance that dietary guidelines for school meals would be no less restrictive than federal guidelines;
  • A plan to measure the implementation of local wellness policies, including the designation of an individual or individuals with operational responsibility for ensuring that requirements have been met;
  • Involve parents, students, school boards, school administrators and public representatives in policy development.

Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act 2010

Team Nutrition became even more relevant on the school nutrition scene in 2010 when former President Obama signed the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act into law. This law brought the foods served in state child feeding programs into line with the dietary guidelines for Americans.

After the law passed, schools were required to offer a greater quantity and variety of fruits and vegetables, increase the proportion of whole grains over refined grains, offer lower-fat milk, and in some cases enforce calorie restrictions at meals.

Team Nutrition may have valuable tools to help schools promote the new, improved meals. Some states are introducing Team Nutrition Grants to address new eating standards and engage stakeholders in a movement toward healthier school environments.

Team Nutrition Materials

Last year, Team Nutrition released its Local School Health Policy Outreach Toolkit to help schools engage parents and staff in school wellness activities.

Team Nutrition Program
Team Nutrition Program

School wellness committees, which are a key element of school wellness policies, should include students, parents, school administrators and community stakeholders, according to the Team Nutrition website.

The toolkit includes customizable presentations, newsletter articles, and social media posts on school health policies.

Team Nutrition offers several classes aligned to educational standards in Health, Arts, Science and Mathematics in English. Serving Up MyPlate, which includes lessons for grades 1 through 6, was downloaded more than 63,000 times in FY16.

New digital resources are being developed for middle schools and will include short videos that deliver age-appropriate messages about food choices, interactive elements such as video games, and standards-based briefings that summarize messages in short, easy-to-understand language.

White says Team Nutrition is developing new materials that target key populations. With the CACFP being the most recent child nutrition program to have updated eating pattern standards and regulations taking effect in October, Team Nutrition will be introducing new tools for daycare and family daycare, including training worksheets and posters for childcare workers and an updated infant feeding guide.