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Press Release: MSDE Awarded Grant To Train School Wellness Champions

Funds Will Be Used To Support Implementation Of School Wellness Policies

For Immediate Release                                       Contact: William Reinhard, 410-767-0486 

Baltimore, MD (August 26, 2014)

The Maryland State Department of Education’s (MSDE) Office of School and Community Nutrition Programs has been awarded a $346,732 U.S. Department of Agriculture Team Nutrition Grant to help train the next generation of school wellness champions.

“Health and wellness play an important role in the academic success of our students. We need leaders at the school level to build and support an environment that focuses on healthy changes that positively impact learning,” said Dr. Lillian M. Lowery, State Superintendent of Schools.

MSDE is partnering with the University of Maryland Extension, the University of Maryland Baltimore Division of Growth and Nutrition, and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to improve the school health environment through effective implementation and monitoring of school wellness policies.  Since 2004, all school districts participating in the National School Lunch Program and/or the School Breakfast Program are required to have a wellness policy.

Partners will provide training to create school level Wellness Champions from selected schools in five Maryland school districts. The training is focused on strategies to implement wellness policy goals and activities at the school level to enhance and improve the schools’ healthy eating and physical activity environment. The University of Maryland Extension Family and Consumer Science’s faculty and local health department staff will facilitate the training.

The Wellness Champion will lead a school level wellness team to implement nutrition and physical activity practices that align with the goals and regulations in the wellness policy. School districts will also receive grants to support schools in their efforts to improve the school health environment. For example, schools could conduct parent/caregiver wellness workshops or sponsor a student wellness video challenge designed to engage the school in wellness activities. Grant activities will also provide training and resources to school nutrition staff on nutrition promotion and marketing, utilizing techniques from the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement.

The University of Maryland Baltimore Division of Growth and Nutrition will evaluate the impact of the grant’s activities. It will assess how resources dedicated to wellness training and technical assistance to Wellness Champions impact wellness policy implementation.  Successful lessons learned from these activities will be used to provide training and resources to other schools throughout Maryland.

For more information on Maryland’s Team Nutrition Grants, please contact Megan Lopes at MSDE’s Office of School and Community Nutrition Programs at 410-767-0221 or

The Maryland State Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are equal opportunity providers and employers.

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