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Technology-Based Resources Support School Nutrition Programs, Enhance Customer Service to States

Posted by Debra Eisenbarth, Nutritionist, Food and Nutrition Service in Food and Nutrition Technology
Apr 25, 2018
Children eating school meals
FNS leverages the power of technology and open innovation to advance administrative objectives in the school meal programs.

In today’s school cafeterias, program operators work in fast-paced environments requiring quick and convenient access to resources to properly feed our nation’s children and effectively manage their programs. To meet this crucial need, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has released several exciting technology-based resources and tools to help them do just that.

  • The Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs (FBG) helps program operators purchase the right amount of food and determine how foods meet meal pattern requirements for child nutrition programs. To modernize the FBG, FNS developed an interactive digital format. The Interactive Food Buying Guide allows for easy search and navigation, and gives users the ability to create a favorite foods list. The FBG was released as a mobile app that is currently available on iOS and Android platforms. The mobile app allows enhanced accessibility while on-the-go!
  • FNS recently published a collection of toolkit resources to support local school officials with the process of verifying the accuracy of school meal applications. It’s a process undertaken each year by schools to confirm the eligibility status of households approved to receive free or reduced price school meals. The toolkit promotes integrity by equipping schools with effective strategies and best practices for verification to ensure meals are provided to those in need.
  • To assist school nutrition professionals in meeting required training hours, FNS has a Database of Professional Standards Trainings that houses more than 500 free or low-cost trainings on specific job skills related to nutrition, operations, administration and communications and marketing. In addition, FNS released the online Professional Standards Training Tracker Tool 2.0, a solution to help school food authorities keep track of trainings for individuals or an entire staff.
  • The Child Nutrition (CN) Label Verification Reporting System assists state agency reviewers, program operators and the food industry in verifying the status of a CN Label – which helps ensure that information about how a food counts toward school meal pattern requirements is accurate.
  • The Team Nutrition MyPlate eBooks teach young children about the MyPlate food groups with interactive features to make learning fun. Check out Team Nutrition for more fantastic nutrition education resources.

Each of these new resources was created with one goal in mind – to improve customer service with quick and easy access to timely and accurate information and to offer convenient tools that further streamline meal operations of child nutrition programs across the country.

At USDA, we strive to leverage 21st century tools and strategies to advance our mission. Innovation that offers the opportunity to conduct business anywhere, access information on demand and get a prompt and on-point response to requests is valued at the department. After all, our nation’s customers deserve nothing less.

Category/Topic: Food and Nutrition Technology