A year of celebration of the rich 30 year history of the Institute of Child Nutrition culminated in a reception held during the National Advisory Council (NAC) meeting November 13, 2019.

The University of Mississippi’s new Chancellor, Dr. Glenn Boyce, gave a keynote speech on the importance of the Institute to the University and to the nation’s child nutrition programs. Cindy Long, Deputy Administrator of Child Nutrition Programs for USDA Food and Nutrition Service; Gay Anderson, President of the School Nutrition Association; and Patricia Montague, Chief Executive Officer of the School Nutrition Association, also spoke of the success of the Institute.

Peter Grandjean, Dean of the University of Mississippi School of Applied Sciences of which the ICN is part, described ICN as “the university’s most forward-facing enterprise.” “Dr. Aleshia Hall-Campbell and her diverse and extraordinary team are a tour de force at enhancing our nation’s workforce in school nutrition programs and improving the health and well-being of school-age children everywhere,” Grandjean said. “The Institute embodies everything we aspire to be in the School of Applied Sciences.” [https://news.olemiss.edu/institute-child-nutrition-expands-outreach-impact/]

The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 1989, signed by President George H. W. Bush on Nov 10, 1989, established a food service management institute with a mission “to provide information and services that promote the continuous improvement of Child Nutrition Programs,” and the vision “to be the leader in providing education, research, and resources to promote excellence in Child Nutrition Programs.” (1992)

The headquarters of the Institute was established at the University of Mississippi, with the Applied Research Division located at the University of Southern Mississippi. Effective April 1, 1990, Dr. Jeanette Phillips, chair and professor of the university’s Home Economics Department and a state coordinator of the USDA funded NET Program for education and training in the child nutrition programs, was named Acting Executive Director. Jim Reeves, an administrator in the Outreach division of the university, was named Assistant Director of Administration.  Dr. Josephine Martin became the Institute’s first executive director (June 1, 1991 through August 31, 1996).  During the first year of operations, Task 1 was the recruitment and selection of key personnel, the establishment of physical facilities, and the formation of advisory boards.

The Institute immediately began developing and delivering training designed for child nutrition professionals. One original idea was the Breakfast Lunch Training (BLT) training concept designed to deliver capsuled information to assist child nutrition managers in providing staff training in limited time segments. The first BLT was presented at American School Food Service Association Annual National Conference in Las Vegas, NV on July 23, 1991.

The Institute pioneered the use of technology to deliver education and training in the operation of Child Nutrition Programs with the goal of reaching a national audience as efficiently and effectively as possible.  The first teleconference Dietary Guidelines in Your Hands aired April 28, 1992.  From 1992 through 1999, the Institute produced 18 teleconferences or satellite seminars in the Managing Child Nutrition Programs to Teach Healthy Food Practices series delivered via a National Satellite Network.

The Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) rebranded its name and logo from the National Food Service Management Institute effective July 1, 2015, to align more closely with the progressive mission and vision of the organization.  The primary functions of ICN include providing child nutrition professionals with education, technical assistance, information, and applied research that is related to the operation and management of federally funded child nutrition programs.

To celebrate 30 years of service to the child nutrition program professionals, the Institute launched the ICN 30th Anniversary website at https://www.theicn.org/30.  This page showcased video, photographs, and stories from the rich history of the Institute.

The Vintage Vault highlighted early NFSMI promotional videos, testimonials, and clips from oral history interviews, hosted on the Institute’s Vimeo channel https://vimeo.com/360836412.  The 2003 NFSMI Promotional Video for the ASFSA Annual National Conference was subtitled “Appreciating the Past, Understanding the Present, Envisioning the Future,” and offered a look at the Institute’s new home. The very first video, presented in 1991, discussed the early start of the Institute and highlighted some of our early successes in training and ambitious plans for the future.

The ICN 30th Anniversary page also presented stories from the Institute’s past illustrated with video and photographs. Dr. Josephine Martin was profiled as the first Executive Director of the Institute.  First training sessions conducted at ASFSA ANC in Las Vegas described the first nationwide presentation from the Institute, the original 10 Minute BLT.  The successful satellite seminar network was highlighted. The history of Orientation to Child Nutrition Management seminars was offered, beginning with the first two week training session conducted at the University of Mississippi in 1994. The 1992 seminar on Nutrition Management for Children with Special Needs conducted in Kansas City featured Senator Bob Dole. And the awards garnered for the Cooks for Kids video series that aired from 2007 to 2010 was offered.

In the ICN building, Child Nutrition Archives staff set up visual displays featuring the early days of the Institute alongside the latest achievements.  The series of displays that were set up in the first and second floor foyer of the Institute not only served an aesthetic role during the Institute’s anniversary, but they informed the visitors, as well as staff, of the Institute’s history and role in the child nutrition profession across the United States and Territories over the past thirty years. Most of the material within the displays came from the Institute’s Child Nutrition Archives. Each display centered on a specific theme including; the beginning of the Institute, early education and training resources, outreach, the Institute’s Executive Directors, awards for programs and trainings, which included three prestigious Telly Awards and two Clarion Awards, the Institute’s building located on the campus of the University of Mississippi, the Institute’s Silver Jubilee in October 2014, and subsequent rebranding from NFSMI to ICN.

One of the glass cases in the foyer alcove showed the various awards won by the Institute for video and teleseminars such as the Telly awards won for Cooks for Kids and the Telecon awards for the satellite seminars.

The Thirty Years and Counting display showcased current ICN resources.  In the second floor lobby additional displays featured the new Summer Meals Food Safety Kits and the Family Child Care Homes Food Safety Kits developed by the Institute in the past two years.  Across from that, a display featured Early NFSMI Printed Education and Training Resources from 1992 along with Display Materials from NFSMI’s first ASFSA Annual National Conference Exhibit Booth presented in Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 1992.  Another display was dedicated to showcasing NFSMI logos and memorabilia “Before Rebranding” alongside ICN logos and memorabilia “After Rebranding.”  Across from that display, a table showed printed materials and photographs from the very first years of the Institute including photographs of Congressional leaders, rosters of the first General Advisory Board and Research, Education, and Technical Advisory Board (RETAB), plus rosters from the first National Advisory Council that convened in 1994. A photograph alcove display positioned a photograph of the 1992 NFSMI staff beside a 2018 photograph of ICN staff.

The glass cased model of the proposed NFSMI building in the alcove overlooking the auditorium was expanded with the addition of enlarged photographs of the Home Management House where the Institute found its first home, the groundbreaking ceremony for the new building, the construction on the new building, and the finished building plus invitations and clippings on the dedication of the new building in 2001.

The table beside the back window at the top of the stairs featured pictures of Dr. Jeannette Phillips, the first acting executive director, and Dr. Aleshia Hall-Campbell, ICN’s current executive director, along with photographs of other past executive directors.

Finally, to wrap up the history of the Institute and to gift as a takeaway from the celebration, the Institute prepared a timeline booklet from the establishment of the Institute in the 1989 law to virtual instructor led trainings in 2019 – Thirty Years and Counting.