School Food Success Stories

Schools across the country are making big changes in the cafeteria a result of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s updated nutrition standards for school foods. However, many schools have been successfully serving healthy options that students enjoy since before the new standards were put in place.

The Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project talked to school districts across the country to find out how they did it. From introducing garden bars, to collaborating with local farmers and incorporating nutrition into lesson plans, these districts found creative ways to address their unique challenges.

California: El Monte City School District gave students ownership over their school lunch by asking their opinions, offering taste tests, and engaging them in activities such as art and essay contests.
Georgia: Burke County Public Schools created a reimbursable vending machine program that offered high school students healthy alternatives to traditional cafeteria meals.
Georgia: Carrollton City faced many challenges but overcame them to bring up student fruit consumption by 40 percent.
Hawaii: Hawaii schools have successfully moved to selling healthier foods and beverages while controlling costs.
Kentucky: In Daviess County, adults and children alike have embraced the idea that students need nutritious meals.
Kentucky: In order to serve food that was both healthy and tasty, Jefferson County Public Schools took an obvious yet unconventional approach: They hired a chef.
Kentucky: Montgomery County, KY, school kids ate twice as much lettuce when they began growing it themselves.
Maine: Students in this school district choose from a large selection of healthy entrees, many of which are cooked from scratch in the cafeteria.
Minnesota: The food service director at St. Paul Public Schools held taste tests among the student body to leverage their support for healthier meals.
Mississippi: Buy-in is key: Principals, health staff, superintendents in Lamar County, MS, work together for healthy meals.
Ohio: By making a la carte lunch entrees and snack foods healthier, Cincinnati Public Schools prompted many more students to eat school lunches, which turned a budget deficit into a sizable surplus.
Texas: Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District centralized its meal preparation to ensure that all students have access to nutritious food that does not bust the budget.
Wisconsin: It’s all about choices. How West Salem, WI, schools make healthy meals to please students from first grade on up.

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