In 1995, the School Meals Initiative for Healthy Children regulations updated nutrition standards to ensure that school meals were consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The USDA recognized that schools needed help putting these rules into action. School foodservice professionals requested technical assistance to help schools create healthy, appealing meals and nutrition education to motivate students to select and consume the healthier meals. In response, Team Nutrition was created: an integrated, behavior-based, comprehensive plan for promoting the nutritional health of the Nation’s children.
Team Nutrition’s goal is to improve children’s lifelong eating and physical activity habits by using the principles of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the MyPlate guidelines. Team Nutrition develops messages and materials that can be used consistently throughout the country. It promotes support and training at the State and local levels through infrastructures developed by the North East Training (NET) Program as well as new Team Nutrition partnerships.
Team Nutrition is implemented through three behavior-oriented strategies:
- Providing training and technical assistance for child nutrition foodservice professionals to help them serve meals that look good, taste good and meet nutrition standards.
- Promote nutrition curriculum and education in schools through multiple communication channels to reinforce positive nutrition messages and encourage students to make healthy food and physical activity choices
- Build school and community support for creating healthy school environments that are conducive to healthy eating and physical activity.
More than 30,000 local schools throughout the country have adopted Team Nutrition. According to a study done by Bridging the Gap research program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, schools that participated in Team Nutrition were more likely to offer healthier foods—and less likely to offer unhealthy foods—at lunch.
Katherine Baildon and Sarina Kumar, Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs
Turner L, Ohri-Vachaspati P, and Chaloupka FJ. Improving School Foods Through the Team Nutrition Program: New Findings from U.S. Elementary Schools. Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago.
USDA Food and Nutrition Service – Team Nutrition