- Author: Emily Harris
- Contributor: Evelyn Morales
Developed out of Cornell University, the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement (SLM) seeks, “to equip school lunchrooms with evidence-based tools that improve child eating behaviors and thus improve the health of children.” This year Fresno Unified School District embarked on its second year of a five-year plan to bring the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement to every school in the district.
What's for lunch? Look no further than the Tomahawk Cafe menu board.
Presentation goes a long way to make healthy foods appealing to students.
Nutrition education can take place in the cafeteria.
The Fresno Unified Nutrition Center partnered with UC CalFresh and the Dairy Council to implement SLM in all 16 middle schools this school year. Smarter Lunchrooms Manager, Danette Whitfield, took charge of assessing schools to amplify their strengths and identify opportunities for improvement based on the SLM scorecard system. District Supervisor, Morgan Terry, and District Registered Dietician, Amanda Harvey, took lead on meeting with administration and food service staff at each site to get them on board for the changes that would take place.
UC CalFresh's contributions to this movement included staff training and indirect nutrition education through improved lunchroom signage. All schools received revamped Welcome Posters, Lunch Menus and Menu Item Cards, all created to reflect nutritional information while incorporating school spirit, colors and mascots.
The real success came with the partnership and open-communication between the food service staff at each school site and the nutrition center management staff. As a result of the positive environmental changes adopted over the course of the school year, all 16 of the middle schools reached Gold status, which is the highest level on the SLM scorecard.
Fresno Unified has taken its first major steps to implement one of the largest Smarter Lunchrooms Movement's in the state by making these changes district-wide. There are always challenges to overcome when having the 4th largest school district in California, but the success seen in the 2015-2016 school year is just the beginning of the amazing changes we will see in Fresno Unified over the next few years.