School Nutrition Announcements November 30, 2018


Meet Our New Specialists

Please join us in welcoming two new additions to the School Nutrition team!

Deborah “Deb” Jones is a Montana-grown registered dietitian who spent most of her 35+ year career in food service management. She has taken culinary adventures around the world and cooked in some exotic places. Deb finds demonstrating how to prepare healthful dishes that people taste is how she provides the best connections to her nutrition messages. Deb delights in hearing participants in one of her tasting events gush “I never imagined that I would like Fennel” or “Who knew Oat Groats were so delicious?

Erin Turner grew up and raised her family in Bozeman, MT. She is a graduate of Montana State University with a Bachelor's in Food & Nutrition focusing in Dietetics. After graduating she worked as a liaison in clinical nutrition at Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital. She has managed Monforton School's nutrition program as the Food Service Director for the past few years and is now joining the OPI team as a School Nutrition Program Specialist. She is excited to join the OPI team in assisting schools throughout Montana.


School Nutrition Programs Policy




FY 2019 Administrative Review and Training Grants


FY 2019 Technology Innovation Grants (TIG)



National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program: Questions and Answers for Charter Schools


All USDA memos for School Nutrition Programs can be found here


SFSP Newsletters

Every month, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service creates newsletters highlighting new resources available to assist with coordination and operation of the Summer Food Service Program.




Montana Team Nutrition seeks 3 schools to participate in a Smarter School Breakfast Research Project

Test behavioral economics strategies in your School Breakfast Program to increase students’ selection of fruits, vegetables, and milk; and improve participation in your breakfast program!  Schools will receive $250 to support this project.

Participating schools can keep this project simple by trying very easy strategies such as:

1.         Offering 2 types of fruit at breakfast

2.         Sliced or cut fruit is offered.

3.         Fruit is served in an attractive bowl or basket

4.         White milk is placed in front of chocolate milk

5.         Using a menu board and signage to promote breakfast

6.         Trying new breakfast recipes which include fruits and vegetables

7.         other ideas you have wanted to try at breakfast…… 

WHEN: Starts December 2018. Ends April 2019.

WHO:  Any school interested in: using simple, low-cost methods to nudge healthy choices at breakfast; engaging students in the school breakfast program; and striving to increase participation.  Elementary, Middle and/or High Schools are eligible to participate. 

WHY: Montana schools have seen positive outcomes with Smarter Lunchrooms techniques.  We’d like to see if these concepts can be used successfully in School Breakfast Programs.  Engage students in your program to gather new ideas and improve customer service.

INTERESTED?  Contact Montana Team Nutrition

Molly Stenberg, 406.994.7217,


Press and Events


Romaine Lettuce Update

The following information came from the USDA regional office in Denver.   Going forward, the decision to purchase romaine lettuce commercially is the decision of State and schools. Romaine is not available through the USDA DoD Fresh Program.  Here is FDA’s recommendation:

FDA Investigating Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 Infections Likely Linked to Romaine Lettuce Grown in California

The FDA, along with CDC, state and local agencies, is investigating a multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses likely linked to romaine lettuce grown in California this fall. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Canadian Food Inspection Agency are also coordinating with U.S. agencies as they investigate a similar outbreak in Canada.

The FDA has been conducting a traceback investigation, reviewing shipping records and invoices to trace the supply of romaine from the place where ill people were exposed to the place where that romaine was grown. 

Here is the latest update from November 28, 2018:

The specific California counties FDA identified in the traceback investigation are:

  • Monterey

  • San Benito

  • San Luis Obispo

  • Santa Barbara

  • Santa Cruz

  • Ventura

    Romaine harvested from locations outside of the California regions identified by the traceback investigation does not appear to be related to the current outbreak.

    Based on discussions with producers and distributors, romaine lettuce entering the market will now be labeled with a harvest location and a harvest date or labeled as being hydroponically- or greenhouse-grown. If it does not have this information, you should not eat or use it.

    If romaine lettuce does have this labeling information, we advise avoiding any product from the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central California. Romaine lettuce from outside those regions need not be avoided.

    Romaine lettuce that was harvested outside of the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central California does not appear to be related to the current outbreak. Hydroponically- and greenhouse-grown romaine also does not appear to be related to the current outbreak. There is no recommendation for consumers or retailers to avoid using romaine harvested from these sources.


Training and Resources


NEW Unpaid Meal Charges Resources on USDA Website

The USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is pleased to announce the release of several new unpaid meal charges resources for school food authorities (SFAs). These resources, now available on the USDA Unpaid Meal Charges Website, include:

    • Local Charge Policy Training Template: An adaptable presentation SFAs can use to develop a training for school and district staff members responsible for enforcing the local charge policy.           

    • Unpaid Meals Fact Sheets: Three fact sheets providing an overview of unpaid meal charges and strategies SFAs can use to prevent “school lunch shaming.”

    • Unpaid Meal Charges Talking Points: Sample talking points school officials can use as a starting point to address questions about unpaid meal charges.

    • Excess Balance Donation Letter: An adaptable letter and donation form that SFAs can use to encourage families to donate any balances remaining in their account at the end of the school year.

These resources are designed to support SFAs in their efforts to find workable solutions to the challenge of unpaid meal charges and ensure children continue to have access to the wholesome and nutritious meals. 

To view the resources, please visit USDA’s Unpaid Meal Charges webpage: