Smarter Lunchroom Movement


The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement is dedicated to providing schools with the knowledge, motivation, and resources needed to build a lunchroom environment that makes healthy food choices the easy choice.

The Movement brings evidence from the fields of economics, marketing, and psychology into the school cafeteria.  Smarter Lunchrooms strategies are free or low-cost solutions that nudge students to voluntarily select the healthiest food in the lunchroom.  Smarter Lunchrooms can see less waste, higher participation, more satisfied students, and increased consumption of important nutrient-rich foods.

The Four Step Path

The 4 steps to building a Smarter Lunchroom provides an easy to follow path to ensure the cafeteria environment supports students in selecting and eating the healthiest foods available at school. The first step is “Spot” – use the Smarter Lunchroom Scorecard and photos to spot possible areas of improvement. The second step is “Plan”. Create a Smarter Lunchroom Action Plan. Review the scorecard results and photos and choose 3-5 strategies to work on.  Create a plan for each strategy. The third step is “do”.  Make the lunchroom staff aware of the changes. Give them a chance to ask questions and make suggestions. It helps to create buy-in. Make communication and training part of your plan. The last step is “Prove”. Complete another scorecard and take photos of the results. Share your successes with administration and parents.

The Smarter Lunchroom Scorecard and Tools

  1.  The Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard  contains 60 simple, no-cost or low-cost strategies that lunchrooms can use to increase participation, improve consumption of healthy food, and reduce food waste.  The strategies are based on research from the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs and partners and other behavioral science research.
  2. The Smarter Lunchroom Scorecard Summary  is completed alongside the scorecard to provide a quick snap shot of the results.
  3. Frequently asked Questions should be reviewed before completing the first scorecard.
  4. The Action Plan is developed after reviewing photos and scorecard results

UNH Cooperative Extension’s Nutrition Connections program has three Field Specialists that were trained at the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs and became certified Technical Assistant Providers. (TAP) Schools that have at least 50 % of its students receiving free and reduced meals, qualify for technical assistance for the Smarter Lunchroom program.

Revised February 17, 2020