JCN&M Study Evaluates Team Up Pilot Workshops


The following is the eighth in a series of news stories examining each of the JCN&M papers in the Spring 2017 Issue.

Make no mistake about it, developing a healthy and nutritious breakfast or lunch menu that students will like is challenging. Since the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, that task was made even more difficult for many school districts.

Among the problems districts reported to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Nutrition and Service (FNS) include: reduced student participation, increased food costs, meal planning problems due to limited access or availability of required foods, and lack of adequate or appropriate equipment to store, process or prepare foods associated with the new requirements.

To help districts offer solutions to these challenges, USDA FNS created Team Up for School Nutrition Success (Team Up). This initiative provides tailored technical assistance to school nutrition professionals to support them in enhancing their school meal programs while maintaining strong student participation. Team Up Training uses best practice presentations and a peer mentor-based model to cover topics such as menu planning, financial management, and food safety. The ultimate outcome of Team Up, is that each school nutrition professional develops an individualized action plan with a focused goal to achieve when they return to their respective schools.

In November 2014, the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) and USDA FNS teamed up for a two-day Team Up for School Nutrition Success pilot workshop. Mirroring the goals and objectives of the initiative, the workshop used best practice presentations and a peer mentor-based model to cover the following four topics: menu planning, financial management, increasing participation, and plate waste. At the conclusion of the workshop, participants were assigned to develop an individualized action plan, designed to improve their school meal programs at their respective school.

In a new study in the Practical Solutions section of the latest issue of SNA’s The Journal of Child Nutrition & Management, a paper by Karen Weber Cullen, DrPH, RD and Keith Rushing, PhD, RD, compiled participant evaluations of a Team Up for School Nutrition Success pilot workshop taking place at ICN in in Oxford, Mississippi. The Team Up for School Nutrition Success Workshop Evaluation Study: Three Month Results, found that overall, that workshop attendees saw the mentoring and support they received, in addition to the assessment of their program and creation of action plans for improvement, as “very important.”

The authors of this study believe that that results of the workshop clearly demonstrate that the Team-Up model of peer-to-peer mentoring aimed at the development of individualized goals and action plans for school nutrition directors is an effective grass roots model for supporting local school nutrition programs in making improvements.

The authors conclude, that The Team Up for School Nutrition Success initiative is an important tool that USDA now provides to help schools successfully serve meals that meet the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act nutrition standards and meal patterns.

About The Journal of Child Nutrition & Management:
The Journal of Child Nutrition & Management (JCN&M) is the exclusive source for research findings in this profession, and it features a variety of studies in the following four categories: Research in Action, Current Issues, Practical Solutions and FNS Research Corner. Published twice a year, this peer-reviewed research journal is available free of charge, online only. Read the current issue today.

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