The National School Lunch Program was created to prevent hunger and malnutrition in the nation's students by providing nutritious meals that support the health and the well-being of these children. More than 60 years later, the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act was signed into law, launching changes to current child nutrition programs not only to make sure all students have access to healthy meals but also to address increasing health concerns, specifically childhood obesity.
Prior to these changes, federal and state reviews of child nutrition programs revealed a lack of knowledge about meal pattern requirements, incorrect identification and counting of reimbursable meals, and errors at the district level with the consolidation and reporting of meal information. These errors cost school districts millions of dollars in reimbursement.
The School Meals Accountability and Responsibility Training Tools (SMARTTs) project was developed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA DESE) in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Extension Nutrition Education Program (NEP) and Labor Management Workplace Education Program (LMWEP) with funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to improve and increase:
Through training of Local Educational Agency (LEA) administrative personnel in application, certification, verification, meal counting and meal claiming procedures.
With technology improvements, which demonstrate an ability to address administrative errors through the use of targeted monitoring and increased training in error-prone LEAs.
Oversight and training activities focused on the nutritional quality of the meals.
SMARTTs includes the following tools:
MAKING IT COUNT (MIC) is a web-based professional development tool that was created by UMass Extension NEP for self-directed study as well as group trainings for all school nutrition personnel. MIC includes videos, interactive and site-based group activities, teaching tools such as a facilitator's guide, facts sheets, work sheets, key word lists, review questions, and useful links. All videos and print materials are available in English and Spanish. Closed-captioning is available for all the videos in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Mandarin, and Portuguese.
Making It Count was designed to:
- Improve understanding of the new requirements for the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and Afterschool Snack Program
- Reduce errors and improve accountability in these school nutrition programs
MIC focuses on USDA Meal Requirements for Breakfast, Lunch and Afterschool Snack, Special Dietary Needs, Food Production in Schools, Accountability and Access.
The MASSACHUSETTS TRAINING, EVALUATION, RESEARCH INITIATIVE (MassTERI) is a collaboration between The University of Massachusetts Labor Management Workplace Education Program (LMWEP) and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Office for Nutrition, Health, and Safety.
The purpose of MassTERI is to contribute to the mastery of skills and workplace competencies of school nutrition personnel by providing evidence-based training, evaluation, and research. Our mission is to facilitate/help the advancement of women and men in the school nutrition industry by providing innovative, relevant, and cost-effective training and professional development solutions.
MassTERI has provided face-to-face training throughout the Commonwealth in the fields of computer literacy, leadership, cross-cultural communication, literacy, and numeracy, and a Training of Trainers (TOTs) to assist school nutrition professionals in developing, designing and implementing trainings for their school nutrition service.
TECHNOLOGY IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMS (TIPs) provide Massachusetts LEAs with data analysis tools to monitor application, certification (including direct certification), verification (including direct verification), meal counting and meal claiming procedures.