A Montana State University-based program that provides nutrition education and training in schools has won nearly $300,000 to continue to build resources and provide support for nutrition education, school wellness policy programs and Farm to School programs in K-12 classrooms across the state.
The $294,403 competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will continue and expand the work of the Montana Team Nutrition program. Since the program’s inception in 1995, the successful partnership between the Office of Public Instruction and Montana Team Nutrition has won approximately $3.8 million for a variety of nutrition education-related projects in Montana schools, according to Katie Bark, the program’s project coordinator.
The latest grant, which was applied for and awarded through Montana’s Office of Public Instruction, will be used in a variety of ways, Bark said. A common denominator is that all of the components are designed to help boost nutrition education or provide access to healthy food in elementary schools, middle schools and high schools across the state.
“It’s very important to help kids develop healthy eating habits,” Bark said. “This grant money will be used to help kids learn how to eat right for the long term, and it’s also designed to make it easier for kids to access healthy foods.”
Among other projects, the latest grant will be used to increase training for school food service staff; develop a network to strengthen nutrition education connections between the garden, classroom and cafeteria; maintain a school wellness coach network; enhance school meal marketing efforts to encourage students to select fruits and vegetables; conduct nutrition education workshops for educators; strengthen educator training and resources about feeding concepts for young children; increase support for nutrition education and Farm to School initiatives; and help Montana school districts meet USDA requirements and policies by providing training.
Through the program, schools are invited to apply for funds for specific projects or to tap into a variety of resources that are available for all to use, free of charge.
Educators who are interested in learning more about resources available through the Montana Team Nutrition Program are invited to contact Bark at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.opi.mt.gov/MTeamNutrition.