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Nutrition education training offered to local food service staff

A flavor station with various spices.

MARION, Ill. – Many youth eat two-thirds of their meals at school, so it's important they receive healthy, nutritious food. Local school food service staff recently met to learn how to better serve their students through the School Lunch Rocks training program.

Kim Nesler from the Illinois State Board of Education shared back-to-school meal basics. Many rules must be followed for school meal programs, which makes menu planning a challenge, and Nesler reviewed some of the guidelines and resources that can assist staff with menu planning.

SNAP-Ed educator Lizz Cooley-Questelle discussed how to implement share tables, which are a great way to reduce food waste in the cafeteria while providing hungry students with a bit of additional food. SNAP-Ed educator Toni Kay Wright shared ideas on flavor stations, which can allow students to add some flavor to their food without adding salt.

"We were excited to reach more than 80 school food service staff from across the region with our summer School Lunch Rocks training and look forward to connecting with them again in the fall" said Wright. "At these larger regional trainings, school food service staff can network, share ideas, and gain some additional knowledge to encourage students to eat school meals."

School Lunch Rocks is an annual school food service training offered collaboratively by the CATCH onto Health Consortium, SIH, and University of Illinois Extension's ABCs of School Nutrition program. ABCs of School Nutrition is a partnership between University of Illinois Extension and the Illinois State Board of Education. The program supports all school nutrition professionals – from frontline workers to school administrators – in earning USDA Professional Standards credit and learning best practices for school food service and meal planning during training opportunities.

In the fall, additional training will be offered with tips to prepare for administrative review, ideas to get kids involved in school meals, and an update from CATCH onto Health Consortium. School lunch providers who want to learn more or register for the November session can visit

SOURCE:  Toni Kay Wright, SNAP-Ed Extension educator,, (618) 993-3304

WRITER: Heather Willis, marketing and communications coordinator,, (618) 357-2126

About Extension

Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.