Minnesota Smarter Lunchroom collaborative
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In the fall of 2016, three organizations formed a statewide collaborative. The goal? Work together to identify ways to efficiently and effectively improve school nutrition environments in Minnesota. How? Through implementation of Smarter Lunchrooms strategies.
There is an identified need to improve the school nutrition environment to make it easier for kids to make healthy food decisions. The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement offers simple, low-cost or free, evidenced-based strategies to improve the nutrition environment. A Smarter Lunchroom results in:
- Increased participation in school meals.
- Increased selection and consumption of healthy foods.
- Decreased waste.
Smarter Lunchrooms assists these diverse organizations to come together around a common strategy. Through collaboration, organizations enjoy consistent messaging, and reinforces activities and increased sustainability. This leads to enhanced nutrition outcomes for schools. The organizations in Minnesota who have come together are the following:
- University of Minnesota Extension — Health and Nutrition, SNAP-Ed
- Minnesota Department of Education — Nutrition, Health, and Youth Development Division
- Minnesota Department of Health — Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP)
The organizations rely on each other to bring their respective strengths to the table. These include:
- Access to the target audience
- Content expertise
Extension’s health and nutrition team has a strong track record of working in partnership with schools. We teach healthy eating habits to students. We support school foodservice professionals in serving healthy, appealing foods. Now we are providing even more support. We are working with schools to improve their nutrition environment through proven Smarter Lunchroom strategies.
Extension is a natural fit for helping to implement Smarter Lunchrooms strategies for three reasons.
- We are already in place. Health and nutrition educators have partnered with schools all over Minnesota for many years.
- We are already doing the work. Extension’s current portfolio of health and nutrition work supports improving school nutrition environments. This includes Nutrition Building Blocks for Great Trays® and Workshops for School Foodservice Professionals.
- We are already focused on the health of all Minnesotans. We focus on improving healthy food access using proven educational and engagement strategies. This matches the School Lunchroom Movement’s mission to equip school lunchrooms with evidence-based tools that improve child eating behaviors.
University of Minnesota Extension SNAP-Ed educators provide technical assistance and training to staff at SNAP-Ed eligible schools. As of September 2016, 37 SNAP-Ed educators became Certified Smarter Lunchrooms Technical Assistance Providers (TAP).
This map shows the locations of all TAP-certified individuals in Minnesota, as well as Smarter Lunchroom Movement ambassadors.
How to read the map
- Blue pins. SNAP-Ed educators available to provide technical assistance in schools that qualify (50 percent or more free/reduced-priced eligible students).
- Yellow pins. SHIP staff that are TAP-certified.
- Red pins. Smarter Lunchrooms Movement Ambassadors, i.e. the leads in the state for Smarter Lunchrooms. They can answer questions and provide more information about TAP and Smarter Lunchrooms.
- Green pins. All other TAP-certified individuals.
Want to start a conversation about Smarter Lunchrooms? Interested in technical support available for your school? Click on a pin near you.
By using a common strategy to achieve a shared goal, the state of Minnesota is:
- Expanding reach
- Amplifying impact
- Transforming school nutrition environments.
By joining forces, the collaborative can leverage additional funds. We are also on the way to becoming a Smarter Lunchrooms State of Excellence.
Following are the members of the Minnesota Smarter Lunchroom Collaborative:
- Kelly Kunkel, Extension educator in health and nutrition
- Mary Schroeder, Extension educator in health and nutrition
- Laura Perdue, Extension educator in health and nutrition
- Nikki Johnson, Extension educator in health and nutrition
- Gail Anderson, Nutrition, Health, and Youth Development Division with Minnesota Department of Education
- Terri Swartout, SHIP School Coordinator with Minnesota Department of Education
The Smarter Lunchrooms National Office is run out of The Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs and is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service and Food and Nutrition Service.