Michigan State University Extension will be collaborating with the Michigan Department of Education on the recently awarded 2014 USDA Team Nutrition grant. MSU Extension educators across the state will be working directly with 50 schools to conduct Smarter Lunchroom Assessments in the school’s cafeterias. Schools that participate will receive a small financial incentive to complete 10 activities in the cafeteria. The MSU Extension staff members that are leading this partnership include Dawn Earnesty, Sheilah Hebert and Becky Henne.
The evidence-based activities are designed to equip schools with tools that improve children’s eating behaviors, and improve the cafeteria environment and food offerings. Thirty-five of those schools will also be given the opportunity to receive additional support from MSU Extension staff to implement a Healthier School Environment Toolkit. The toolkit will include resources on Coordinated School Health Teams, Healthy School Action Tool Assessment, Local School Wellness Policies, Smart Snacks legislation and other evidence-based strategies such as taste testing, working with student teams, healthy meetings, and adult and peer modeling and coaching to make healthy choices.
MSU Extension staff will receive specialized training on conducting Smarter Lunchroom Assessments, a program designed by the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs.