MSU Extension staff trained as Technical Assistance Providers for schools
MSU Extension Health and Nutrition staff become certified as providers of the Smarter Lunchrooms program.
This fall over 60 Michigan State University Extension health and nutrition staff members were certified as technical assistance providers (TAPs) for the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement developed by Cornell University’s Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition. In the classroom, MSU Extension staff were taught about behavioral economics, using the Smarter Lunchroom Assessment Scorecard, and techniques that can be used to improve the lunchroom environment. After the classroom work was complete, MSU Extension staff went into a high school cafeteria during the lunch hour and under the supervision of Cornell University staff completed a lunchroom assessment as part of their certification.
A Smarter Lunchroom design is meant to nudge students towards nutritious food choices without forcing them in the cafeteria setting. The program is based on research based best practices for product placement, environmental cues, variety of foods offered and positive dialogue with students. Many of the practices are no to low cost activities that can result in increased sales of targeted foods and consumption of healthier options like fruit.
Currently the Michigan Department of Education’s Team Nutrition program is offering 100 mini-grants to schools that participate in the National School Meals program and are interested in completing the Smarter Lunchroom assessment and makeover. MDE is partnering with MSU Extension to provide the in school technical assistance. For more information about the mini-grant opportunity or to connect with a TAP in your area, please contact Becky Henne or Liz Dorman and (517)-543-2310.