Illinois State Board of Education Awards $4.5 million to U of I Extension for school food-service training
It can be a struggle to get kids to eat a well-balanced, nutritious meal at home. Imagine the challenge of encouraging 1.9 million children in schools each day to eat healthier foods. University of Illinois Extension has received $4.5 million over three years to help by providing training and education to school food-service professionals statewide.
Funding for the program comes from the Illinois State Board of Education, which oversees the USDA’s National School Lunch Program at over 4,000 sites in Illinois. As part of its commitment to improve the quality and appeal of these programs and reduce food waste, the board contracted with U of I Extension to develop and conduct in-person and web-based training that supports child nutrition standards and promotes a more appealing cafeteria environment.
“Something as simple as renaming cafeteria items or presenting them in more appealing ways has been shown to encourage children to make healthier food choices,” said Jennifer McCaffrey, assistant dean for family and consumer sciences with U of I Extension. “These options should be front and center. We’ll be working with school food-service professionals to develop strategies so students will ultimately put healthier foods on their lunch tray—and eat them.”
McCaffrey says the $4.5 million project will launch in January 2016 with a monthly webinar series. A new web-training portal will follow in March. Schools interested in training can contact Extension for on-site customized sessions and technical assistance.
Extension educators will draw on the “smarter lunchroom” approach based in part on research conducted at University of Illinois by professor Brian Wansink. Wansink is currently at Cornell University.
“This agreement builds on our strengths and success working with food and nutrition programs across the state,” said George Czapar, associate dean and director for the U of I Office of Extension and Outreach. “Healthy meals in the lunchroom help children focus on learning in the classroom.”
According to data from the Illinois State Board of Education, in the 2015 school year, 1,906,590 children were offered meals by the school lunch program. Just over half (981,487) of those children were eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. Children who participate in the National School Lunch Program tend to eat more nutritious food at lunchtime than children who do not participate, according to USDA research.
“University of Illinois Extension is known for its nutrition education programs and innovative approaches to learning,” said Mark Haller, director of nutrition and wellness for the State Board of Education. “We’re thrilled to offer cutting-edge training to school food-service professionals statewide.”
- When trauma touches the classroom: U of I Extension workshops train teachers to offer hope
- Looking for anaplasmosis in beef cattle
- Illinois organizations partner with Extension to combat malnutrition in seniors
- Extension’s Tony Franklin awarded 2017 Larine Y. Cowan Make a Difference Award on Leadership in Diversity
- Piece by piece, 4-H members stitch together hope for children battling cancer
- STARTUP Jefferson County provides entrepreneurs and small business owners the tools to succeed
- In the face of disaster, Extension Disaster Education Network provides enduring support
- Peoria “stormwater farm” demonstrates power of connecting design thinking with improved public health outcomes
- Incoming freshmen: Apply now for the Extension to ACES Scholarship!
- As the Refuge Food Forest bears fruit, a community's fascination blossoms
- Think globally, act locally: Woodchip bioreactors help farmers reduce nutrient runoff
- BRANDT 4-H race car wins Xfinity maiden race
- Champaign-Urbana collects 13,000 pounds of unwanted medicine
- Data-Driven Dairy
- Illinois biennial report recognizes positive, voluntary steps to reduce nutrient loss
- Persistence pays off: Orr Center celebrates 40 years of progress, partnership
- Gardening with your senses
- Google donates $1.5 million and virtual reality technology to support 4-H youth science programs
- Extension wins award at Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior 2017 annual conference
- 4-H has your seat to the eclipse
- 4-H Bridge Bust Participants Earn More than Awards
- Macon County Master Naturalist Gives Back
- U of I Students Share Ideas to Improve Peoria’s Southside Neighborhood
- Two University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Pollinator Projects Receive Grants
- Healthy Carnival Planned by Teens to Promote Nutrition and Activity
- Illinois Master Gardener program celebrates 40th anniversary
- Rockford third graders 'Farming in the Class'
- Extension experts talk turkey
- 4-H Teens as Teachers have positive impact
- Pond management workshop promotes stewardship, sound practices
- An edible forest takes root in Normal