SDE: Smarter Lunchrooms

Smarter Lunchrooms

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The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement is part of the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs (B.E.N. Center). Smarter Lunchrooms uses behavioral economics, the science of how environmental cues influence decision-making, to promote healthy choices in school lunchrooms. Strategies focus on making small environmental changes - such as ambience, prompting and the packaging, order and placement of food items on the cafeteria line - to influence students' daily food choices.

Smarter Lunchrooms strategies are evidence-based, simple, no cost or low-cost changes to the school lunchroom environment that:

  • promote healthy eating behaviors and nudge children toward nutritious foods; and
  • improve school meal participation and profits while decreasing waste.

Smarter Lunchrooms helps schools evaluate the lunchroom, determine what they are doing well, and identify opportunities for improvement.

Smarter Lunchrooms Resources

{Salad bar at Cutler Middle School in Groton, CT}
{vegetable selections at Cutler Middle School in Groton, CT}
{Fruit and vegetable selections at East Hampton Middle School in East Hampton, CT}
Smarter Lunchrooms Action Guide (PDF)

The Connecticut State Department of Education's (CSDE) Smarter Lunchrooms Action Guide provides guidance for school nutrition programs on strategies to change the cafeteria environment and help students make healthy food choices. This guide is based on the B.E.N. Center's Smarter Lunchrooms principles, and reflects the experiences of six schools that participated in the Smarter Lunchrooms Makeover Pilot (SLMP) through Connecticut's 2013 Team Nutrition grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

{Cover of Smarter Lunchrooms Action Guide}

The action guide includes six sections:

  • Section 1 - Introduction
  • Section 2 - Steps for Change
  • Section 3 - Principles for Improving Eating Behaviors
  • Section 4 - Strategies for Success
  • Section 5 - SLMP
  • Section 6 - Resources
  • Glossary


{Cover of Report on Connecticut}
SLMP Report (PDF)

The CSDE's Report on Connecticut's Smarter Lunchrooms Makeover Pilot provides an overview of the SLMP data components, and summarizes the results for the six pilot schools that participated in the SLMP through Connecticut's 2013 Team Nutrition grant. The SLMP data include scores from the B.E.N. Center's Lunchroom Self-Assessment Score Card, meal participation rates, students' selection of specific meal components (food indicators), and plate waste.

CONTACT:  Susan S. Fiore, M.S., R.D. at or 860-807-2075
Connecticut State Department of Education
Bureau of Health, Nutrition, Family Services and Adult Education
Child Nutrition Programs
450 Columbus Boulevard, Suite 504
Hartford, CT 06103-1841

Nondiscrimination Statements (USDA and CSDE)

Content Last Modified on 5/5/2017 2:27:41 PM