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Smarter Lunchrooms and the Local School Wellness Policy

All districts that participate in the National School Lunch or Breakfast Program are required to have a Local School Wellness Policy that guides the district’s efforts to promote student wellness.  Incorporating Smarter Lunchrooms into a school district’s Wellness Policy ensures that all children in the district reap the benefits of Smarter Lunchrooms strategies.

The final Wellness Policy rule in the Federal Register indicates that in drafting the Wellness Policy, the district is:

“required to review Smarter Lunchroom tools and strategies, which are evidenced-based, simple, low-cost or no-cost changes that are shown to improve student participation in the school meals program while encouraging consumption of more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, and decreasing plate waste.

The following are examples of evidence-based strategies that have been shown to improve the likelihood that children will make the healthier choice: using creative names for fruits and vegetables and targeted entrees, training staff to prompt students to select fruits and vegetables, placing unflavored milk in front of other beverage choices, and bundling ‘‘grab and go’’ meals that include fruit and. vegetable items.” – 81 FR 50151

The following sample language for including Smarter Lunchrooms into the Local School Wellness Policy and can be inserted into the Nutrition section of the Policy. Download a printable version of this page here. 

Sample A:

Use Sample A as a quick and simple way to integrate use of the Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard into the food service operation.


Our district uses evidence-based strategies from The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement to encourage selection and consumption of healthy food choices in the cafeteria. Each school will complete the Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard annually with a goal of achieving Gold.  This goal will be overseen and implemented by the Food Service Director.

Sample B:

Use Sample B to indicate that each school cafeteria will implement at least 5 Smarter Lunchrooms strategies.


Our district uses evidence-based strategies from The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement to encourage selection and consumption of healthy food choices in the cafeteria.  All schools participating in the National School Lunch Program will utilize at least 5 of the following Smarter Lunchroom strategies:

  • Fruit is offered in at least two locations on all service lines, one of which is right before the point of sale.
  • Sliced or cut fruit is offered.
  • A variety of mixed whole fruits are displayed in attractive bowls or baskets (instead of stainless steel pans).
  • At least two kinds of vegetables are offered.
  • Vegetables are incorporated into the main entrée at least monthly.
  • White milk is offered in all beverage coolers.
  • Alternative entrée options (e.g., salad bar, yogurt parfaits, etc.) are highlighted on posters or signs within all service and dining areas.
  • Students are offered a taste test of a new entrée at least once a year.
  • Students provide feedback (informal – “raise your hand if you like…” or formal – focus groups, surveys) to inform menu development.
  • Students, teachers, or administrators share the daily menu in announcements.

Sample C:

Use language from sample C to incorporate Smarter Lunchrooms into the Nutrition Promotion and Professional Development sections of the Wellness Policy.

Nutrition Promotion

The District will promote healthy food and beverage choices for all students throughout the school campus, as well as encourage participation in school meal programs. This promotion will occur by implementing evidence-based healthy food promotion techniques through the school meal programs using Smarter Lunchroom techniques.

Professional Development  

The district will ensure that food service staff receive professional development in Smarter Lunchrooms Movement principles, strategies and practices.

There are many other ways to incorporate Smarter Lunchrooms into your Wellness Policy.  Be creative and thoughtful in what will work best for your district.

For individual support on how to incorporate Smarter Lunchrooms into your Wellness Policy, email   For additional support in updating the Wellness Policy, check out the Alliance for a Healthier Generation policy page.