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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 2015-16 school year.

School Food Authority School/System Area of Submission
Grundy County Grundy County High School Increasing participation in school lunch, breakfast or afterschool snacks
Weakley County Westview High School Increasing participation in school lunch, breakfast or afterschool snacks
Wilson County  Wilson County School Nutrition Program Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption
McMinn County  McMinn County School Nutrition Program Leadership development
Giles County Giles County School Nutrition Program Leadership development
McMinn County  McMinn County School Nutrition Program Fiscal Management

Grundy County High School, Altamont, Tennessee

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

Grundy County High School is being recognized for their “Second Chance” Breakfast program. Students at Grundy have the option to either eat before school begins or at the Second Chance Breakfast. This allows students who arrive later or are not hungry first thing in the morning to eat a healthy breakfast. The practice is very cost effective and participation has increased 22% since implementation. The Second Chance breakfast now serves more children than the regular breakfast.

McMinn County School Nutrition, Athens, Tennessee

Fiscal Management/ Small SFA Category

McMinn County School Nutrition is receiving a Best Practices Award for their continuing efforts to control plate costs. Several methods are being used in these efforts including: standardizing work hours, replacing positions only when needed, and participating in the Southeast TN buying group. McMinn has also reduced maintenance costs by replacing inefficient equipment and improved food quality by adding healthier menu items. School Nutrition has also utilized commodities for more entrees and implemented a new POS system. As a result, participation has increased in both Breakfast and Lunch and plate costs have been controlled.

View the complete list of USDA regional awards