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Smarter Lunchrooms Movement

Includes information about the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement (SLM) in California, local training and Webinar schedules, and best practice resource links.

A smarter lunchroom is one that influences students toward choosing healthier, more nutritious foods. Smarter lunchrooms give students an opportunity to select and consume a balanced diet while providing them with a spectrum of choices. The SLM applies research-based principles that use low or no-cost solutions with a focus on the cafeteria environment and the promotion of healthful eating behaviors.

Contact Us

For more information or if you have questions, please contact the Nutrition Services Division by e-mail at smarterlunchrooms@cde.ca.gov or by phone at 800-952-5609.

Subscribe to the School Nutrition Program Mailing List.

Follow @CDENutrition on Twitter.

About Smarter Lunchrooms Movement

What is the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement? – “It’s Not Nutrition Until It’s Eaten”

The SLM was developed with the goal of creating research-based lunchrooms that guide healthy choices, which are also sustainable and low cost. It is a grassroots movement for those who are concerned about the way kids eat and wish to change unhealthy behaviors.

The smarter lunchrooms core values include:

  • Low and no-cost solutions
  • Lunchroom environment focus
  • Promotion of healthful eating behaviors
  • Sustainability

The six smarter lunchrooms principles aim to:

  • Manage portion sizes
  • Increase convenience
  • Improve visibility
  • Enhance taste expectations
  • Use suggestive selling
  • Set smart pricing strategies

How It Began

The SLM started in October 2010 as a result of a partnership between Dr. Brian Wansink and Dr. David Just from the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University. This partnership produced the Cornell University Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs (BEN Center). The BEN Center has promoted the SLM by applying Food and Brand Lab research to school environments. Under the direction of Dr. Wansink and Dr. Just, the SLM has expanded to schools across the country. For more information visit the Cornell Smarter Lunchrooms Movement External link opens in new window or tab. Web site.

How it Works

The smarter lunchrooms principles and practices are easy to implement. Schools can design their lunchrooms to nudge students toward nutritious foods with some simple changes. For example, a school has a goal to increase the number of students who choose to eat vegetables with their lunch. Using the smarter lunchrooms approach, the school would encourage students to come up with creative names for the vegetable dishes (such as X-ray Carrots or Farm Fresh Veggie Mix) and display that name along with the vegetable in the cafeteria. In Cornell’s studies, this simple activity, combined with displaying the name with the food, increased selection of the vegetable up to 70 percent.

The Evidence

The best practices and lunchroom solutions that the SLM endorses have been studied and proven effective in a variety of schools across the country. The BEN Center applies experimental research from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab to school lunchrooms.

Results from SLM strategies include:

  • Moving and highlighting fruit increased sales of fruit by up to 102 percent.
  • Naming vegetables and displaying the new names with the foods increased selection of vegetables from between 40–70 percent.
  • Introducing a “healthy choices only” convenience line increased the sale of “healthy items” by 35 percent.
  • Placing chocolate milk behind white milk increased white milk sales by 46 percent.

The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement of California Collaborative

The SLM of California (SLM of CA) Collaborative helps California child nutrition professionals design their lunch lines to market the school meal program and to encourage students to enjoy eating healthier foods. The SLM of CA Collaborative has partnered with the BEN Center to influence and improve eating behaviors in adults and children by implementing these best practices in our hospitals, schools, and communities. The SLM of CA Collaborative leverages resources statewide from state level agencies including: the California Department of Education, California Food Policy Advocates, Dairy Council of California, University of California CalFresh Nutrition Education Program, Kaiser Permanente, The California Endowment, and the California Department of Public Health.

Since August 2013, the SLM of CA has been establishing a sustainable, statewide system to provide SLM training and Webinars, technical assistance, and Web-based resources to California child nutrition professionals. The SLM of CA delivery model is based on the philosophy that a single training is not enough to help child nutrition staff navigate the challenges they face in making changes to their lunch lines. Through the SLM of CA, child nutrition professionals complete a training series and are then connected to certified Technical Advising Professionals that provide need-based support including site visit assessments and frontline staff training.

For more information about training, please visit SLM training.

Join the Movement

Getting started is easy. Here a few ways to join the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement.

Find Out More

Visit the following partner Web sites of the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement of California Collaborative.

Cornell University Smarter Lunchrooms External link opens in new window or tab.

Dairy Council of California Smarter Lunchrooms External link opens in new window or tab.

University of California Davis CalFresh Nutrition Education Program External link opens in new window or tab.

Kaiser Permanente External link opens in new window or tab.

Get Training

Attend a Smarter Lunchrooms Movement of California workshop

Attend the Cornell University Smarter Lunchrooms Webinars

Assess Your Lunchroom

Complete a self-assessment using the Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard External link opens in new window or tab.

Webinars

Upcoming Events

There are no Webinars being offered at this time.

Cisco WebEx Webinar Access

The NSD currently offers Webinars using the Cisco WebEx service.

Please test your computer’s compatibility to make sure it is ready to use WebEx prior to attending a Webinar session by visiting the WebEx Test Meeting Web External link opens in new window or tab. page. If you experience difficulties joining the test meeting, contact WebEx support by phone at 866-229-3239.

Recorded Webinars

Introducing the New Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard for Assessing Lunchroom Successes External link opens in new window or tab.
Recorded December 10, 2014.
This Webinar introduces the scorecard for assessing lunchrooms, reviews how to use it, and answers some frequently asked questions.

Involving Middle School Students in Smarter Lunchroom Design External link opens in new window or tab.
Recorded November 22, 2014.
This Webinar discusses how schools used student and staff input and engagement activities to promote fruits and vegetables in the school cafeteria through the implementation of a smarter lunchroom makeover.

Trainings

There are no trainings being offered at this time.

Training Registration Instructions

Training information, locations, and registration is available on the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) Training Registration Web page. Please review the instructions below before starting the registration process.

Instructions for Child Nutrition Program Participants

  • Obtain your agency’s five-digit CNIPS identification (ID) number or personal user ID and password.

  • Access the California Department of Education CNIPS Training Registration External link opens in new window or tab. Web page to connect to the CNIPS and begin the online registration process.

  • Use your agency’s CNIPS ID or personal user ID and password to register and follow the system prompts as shown below:

    • Program Screen—select preferred program or all
    • Available Trainings Screen—select preferred course
    • Available Training Locations Screen—select preferred location

  • After completing the Attendee Information and selecting the Continue button a confirmation e-mail will be sent to the e-mail address provided upon completion of the registration process.

Instructions for Nonprogram Participants

  • Access the California Department of Education CNIPS Training Registration External link opens in new window or tab. Web page to connect to the CNIPS and begin the online registration process.

  • Enter your agency or organization name in the text box where indicated. If you do not work for an agency or organization, enter your last name in the text box. Select View Available Training.

  • Register and follow the system prompts as shown below:

    • Program Screen—select preferred program or all
    • Available Trainings Screen—select preferred program course
    • Available Locations Screen—select preferred location

  • After completing the Attendee Information and selecting the Continue button a confirmation e-mail will be sent to the e-mail address provided upon completion of the registration process.

Registration Assistance and Cancellation Procedure

For assistance with online registration or if you are unable to attend and require a cancellation, please contact the CNIPS Help Desk weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. by phone at 800-952-5609, Option 6, or by e-mail at CNIPS@cde.ca.gov. If possible, please provide your registration confirmation number when cancelling your registration.

Grant Overview

Team Nutrition Smarter Lunchrooms Movement of California Grant

Background

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded a 2015 Team Nutrition (TN) Training Grant to the California Department of Education (CDE) to fund approximately 25 eligible California local educational agencies to complete the TN SLM of California (TN SLM of CA) program.

In collaboration with the SLM of California, the CDE TN SLM of CA program will train a cohort of innovative California school food service staff to implement nutrition education and to redesign cafeterias, using Cornell’s smarter lunchrooms behavioral economics principles, that subtly nudge students to consume healthy food. The SLM of California Technical Advising Professionals will support the TN SLM of CA cohort in implementing SLM strategies, sharing best practices, and sustaining a healthier school environment.

Grant Project Objectives

The TN SLM of CA grant projects must include:

  1. Leadership team attendance at SLM training and grant project workshops
  2. Implementation of strategies in three SLM focus areas and nutrition education at two TN school sites
  3. Frontline cafeteria staff training in SLM principles and practices

Learn more about the TN SLM of CA grant project requirements on the CDE TN SLM of CA Grant Program Guidelines Web page.

Grant Recipients

The CDE awarded $340,000 in TN SLM grants to 50 schools. The 2015 TN SLM of CA grant recipients are listed on the TN SLM of CA Grant Funding Results Web page.

Map of TN SLM of CA grant recipients External link opens in new window or tab.

Grant Resources

 

Questions:   Nutrition Services | smarterlunchrooms@cde.ca.gov | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Thursday, September 15, 2016
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