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School Nutrition

Tennessee's School Nutrition program is responsible for providing nutritious meals and snacks for students in public and private schools, as well as residential and child care institutions. School Nutrition administers the USDA's National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and Afterschool Snack Program across the state. All public schools in Tennessee are on the National School Lunch Program, which provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day.

Nutrition standards set forth by the USDA require most schools to increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free and low-fat fluid milk in school meals; reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat in meals; and meet the nutritional needs of school children within their calorie requirements.

For a detailed description of these federal requirements, see the Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.

For Parents

Learn more about free and reduced-priced meal eligibility and read answers to frequently asked questions.

Community Eligibility Provision

For information on CEP, including a toolkit for districts and frequently asked questions, visit the CEP page.

Additional Information

The Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, as amended by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA), requires a unified accountability system designed to ensure that participating school food authorities (SFAs) comply with National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) requirements. The Act also requires an accountability system that conducts Administrative Reviews to evaluate Program requirements for NSLP and SBP during a three-year cycle. A summary from each district's most recent administrative review can be found below.

For Parents

School nutrition programs are an economical way to provide a significant amount of the student's daily nutritional requirements.

For Teachers

Good nutrition increases students willingness and ability to learn.

For Schools

Nutrition is an integral part of education, contributing substantially to the health and well-being of students.

For the Local Economy

School nutrition programs act as a vast market for locally purchased foods, supplies, and equipment, as well as providing additional jobs in the community.

For Farmers

School nutrition programs utilize available commodities in the lunch and breakfast meals.

Many schools and districts in Tennessee participate in the state's Local Foods for Local Schools program, partnering with the community's local food producers to serve locally grown foods in school cafeterias.

The Tennessee School Nutrition Program is pleased to announce the following “Best Practice Award” winners for the 2016-17 school year.

School Food Authority


Area of Submission

Clarksville-Montgomery County

Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools    

Fiscal Management

Giles County

Pulaski Elementary

Customer Service/Working Smarter, Not Harder

Meigs County

Meigs County High School           

Increasing participation in school lunch, breakfast or afterschool snacks

Milan Special School District

Milan Special School District

Increasing participation in school lunch, breakfast or afterschool snacks

Robertson County

Robertson County Schools

Leadership Development

Shelby County

Shelby County Schools

Farm to School Programs

Pulaski Elementary School, Pulaski, Tennessee

Customer Service/ Small SFA Category

Pulaski Elementary School, in Giles County, has been recognized for their Breakfast in the Classroom program. The “Super Lunch Lady” makes frequent appearances during classroom meal time and during lunch to ensure that students are getting nutritious meals. With the help of excellent customer service, and the “bonding” time Breakfast in the Classroom creates, breakfast participation has increased by 45% since implementation of the program. Teachers, students, and parents view school breakfast time as “family” time, harvesting a positive start to the day at this elementary school.

Milan Special School District, Milan, Tennessee

Increasing Participation in School Lunch, Breakfast, or Snacks/ Small SFA Category

Milan Special School District has implemented multiple crowd pleasers among the students. For example, Milan Middle School has a daily salad bar, which has increased fresh vegetable consumption by 50%. Along with increased vegetable consumption from the salad bar, the fruit bar has also been a hit with students, increasing fruit consumption by 56%.  Not only is the district offering more fresh produce, but the visual displays have made an impact as well and are highlighted through social media. The increased social media posts highlighting the great work of school nutrition has aided the increased participation. In addition to offering a larger variety of foods, Milan Special School District has partnered with special populations to gain knowledge of student preferences and to provide valuable opportunities for students while working to increase overall participation.