Colorado Department of Education Collaboration

Child nutrition programs throughout the U.S. have the capacity to influence two important factors currently affecting many children in the U.S. today: obesity and hunger. With rates of childhood obesity at epidemic proportions and child hunger affecting millions of children, providing nutritious, high quality meals in schools has become increasingly important. At the same time, regulations governing what and how school meals can be served have become increasingly complicated. This adds to the burden of school foodservice professionals who are striving to serve both nutritious and appetizing choices to students, with very limited budgets. As the importance and impact of school meal programs on children’s health and educational opportunities become more apparent, training, skills, and competencies of school foodservice professionals are recognized as key goals.

The Colorado Department of Education’s Office of School Nutrition (CDE-OSN) oversees the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) School Meals Programs in Colorado. In 2015 the USDA implemented a new rule mandating all school nutrition employees meet annual training requirements. CDE-OSN has received a Professional Standards Training Grant to aid Colorado districts in implementing the new training requirements. Currently, the CDE-OSN provides a two-hour orientation, School Nutrition 101. However, required competency in multiple areas in addition to typical kitchen duties, including state and federal regulations, presents a need for an expanded training. As a result, the CDE-OSN has contracted with CSU FSHN to develop and expand this orientation training. For more information contact Leslie Cunningham-Sabo at leslie.cunningham-sabo@colostate.edu.