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State receives USDA training grants to help schools

8/27/2014

Special to The Hays Daily News

Special to The Hays Daily News

TOPEKA -- Kansas is one of 20 states selected to receive Team Nutrition Training Grant Funding from the United States Department of Agriculture, which will be used to help schools serve healthier meals and snacks this school year. Kansas will receive a Competitive grant of $299,453 and a Non-Competitive grant of $49,423.

"These funds will help Kansas schools create healthier school environments that will aid in teaching students lifelong healthy eating and physical activity habits," said Kansas State Department of Education Team Nutrition Project Director Jill Ladd, RD LD. "Research shows that healthy students do better in school and by teaching students to Eat Smart and Play Hard we can assist in fighting and preventing childhood obesity."

The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) will use the Competitive Grant ($299,453) to provide training for members of the National School Lunch Program, and Child and Adult Food Care Program food service staff on implementing the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and meeting the meal pattern requirements for school meals. KSDE's efforts will include:

* Partnering with Midwest Dairy Council and Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign to promote and increase participation in the school breakfast program. This will include offering a statewide workshop and webinar training to school districts, as well as conducting a week-long school breakfast promotion in conjunction with National School Breakfast week (March 2 - 6, 2015).

* Promoting the use of gardens and gardening curriculum to 50 schools/child care centers participating in Child Nutrition Programs in order to increase the variety and acceptance of both fruits and vegetables within meals programs.

* Developing and offering a chef-taught training lab class entitled, "Healthy Flavorful Foods for Kids" focused on reducing sodium by exploring how to use herbs, spices, and culinary techniques in lieu of salt while still being appetizing and flavorful.

* Developing and offering a training class focused on identifying whole grain-rich foods.

Competitive grant money will also be used to assist schools and child care centers to create and maintain a healthier school environment by:

* Delivering health education curriculum for 17,250 students in grades K-6 as well issuing sub-grant funds for schools to conduct accompanying cooking/tasting activities in the classroom.

* Partnering with Kansas Beef Council to develop and promote three multi-media nutrition education lessons for middle school classrooms.

* Providing 120 schools and child care centers with sub-grant funds and program materials to host a Family Fun, Food and Fitness event to engage students and families in the Eat Smart Play Hard message.

* Disseminating program materials and sub-grant funds to 100 schools and child care centers to implement a staff wellness program.

* Hosting six regional Recharging School Wellness Workshops in partnership with Healthy Kansas Schools and the Kansas Health Foundation.

* Partnering with K-State Research and Extension Service and Kansas Department for Children and Families by contributing to an upcoming newsletter issue regarding the benefits of schools meals that is distributed to participants of the Food Assistance Nutrition Education Program

Through the use of the Non-Competitive Grant ($49,423), KSDE will offer "Smarter Lunchroom Makeovers" to a minimum of 50 schools. The makeovers will use environmental cues to increase student selection of whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. The Smarter Lunchroom Makeovers will consist of training for cafeteria and school staff members as well as help in implementing Smarter Lunchroom Strategies and Techniques to assist schools in enhancing the eating environment and increase selection and consumption of healthy meal options among students.

Kansas schools participating in the National School Lunch Program serve more than 72,632,802 meals and snacks during the school year and the Child and Adult Food Care Program serve more than 25,078,394 meals and snacks each year.