The goal of Maryland’s 2009 Team Nutrition Grant was to facilitate the creation of Culinary and Healthful Enhancement of Foods (CHEF) teams in local school systems to create and market menu items for one week of reimbursable school lunch meals. MSDE partnered with the Restaurant Association of Maryland Education Foundation (RAMEF) to provide training to CHEF teams focused on operational and nutritional requirements for school meals, implementation of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, promotion and utilization of USDA foods, and the promotion of the HealthierUS School Challenge.
Grant partners accomplished their goal by providing nine local school systems with mini-grants to conduct the following activities: create new menu items and recipes; market nutrition and health messages; provide nutrition education in the cafeteria, classroom, and other environments; and serve as a resource for nutrition education and support of school meal programs in the school systems.
Maryland’s grant partners facilitated the development of the nine CHEF teams in the following local school systems: Baltimore City, Cecil County, Charles County, Garrett County, Howard County, Kent County, Prince George’s County, Washington County, and Worcester County. Teams consisted of School Food Service supervisors, Cafeteria managers, Culinary Arts teachers, and Career and Technology Education/Family and Consumer Science supervisors. A kick-off training provided the teams with information about the operational and nutritional requirements for school meals, the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, USDA Foods, and the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC).
An additional training was conducted regionally for CHEF teams following the kick-off meeting. Topics included increasing the use of whole grains, high fiber foods, fruits and vegetables, and low or non-fat milk; decreasing the use of sodium, saturated fats, and trans fats; purchasing local foods for school meals; marketing menus and the school meal program; and practicing sound financial management in the school meals program.
Each CHEF team then wrote and received a mini-grant to:
- develop one week of reimbursable menu items that: meet the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans; utilize and promote local and USDA Foods; and qualify for the HealthierUS Schools Challenge;
- provide training to culinary students on the standards and requirements for National School Lunch Program meals in their school system;
- conduct activities with culinary students to design, test, and implement items for school lunch menus;
- create marketing materials to promote the new menus;
- market the school meals program;
- provide fun and interactive nutrition education for students, teachers, and families in the participating schools and their elementary feeder schools; and,
- write a plan for sustainability.