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 nutrition 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


Benefits of a School Nutrition Program

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 acts 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.

Community Partnerships

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.

2013-14 TN School Nutrition Program Best Practice Awards

The Tennessee School Nutrition Program is pleased to announce the following “Best Practice Award” winners for the 2013-14 school year.

School Food Authority School/System Area of Submission
Kingsport City System submission Leadership Development
Bradley County System submission Leadership Development
McMinn County System submission Leadership Development
Jackson Madison County Liberty Technology Magnet HS
  • New Meal Pattern
  • Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Consumption
Franklin County Franklin County HS
  • New Meal Pattern
  • Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Consumption
Cumberland County Pineview Elementary
  • New Meal Pattern
  • Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Consumption
Metro Nashville System submission Promoting a Healthy School Environment
Bradley County Waterville Community Elementary Promoting a Healthy School Environment
Knox County Hardin Valley Academy Increasing Participation in School Lunch
Knox County Beaumont Magnet Academy Increasing Participation in School Breakfast
Cumberland County System submission HACCP Implementation
Sevier County  Pigeon Forge Middle School Creative Use of Commodities

In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Southeast Regional Office recently announced the winners of the twenty first annual “Best Practice Awards” in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP) and Food Distribution Program (FDP). The following are the winners by category, followed by a short summary of their efforts. All of the nominations submitted included excellent examples of best practices within the Child Nutrition Programs.

Winners from the State of Tennessee include the following:

Knox County Schools, Knoxville, Tennessee

Knox County Schools have increased participation in school breakfast and school lunch with special efforts in two schools. Hardin Valley Academy increased their breakfast participation by 13 percent, and their lunch participation by 23.5 percent, by emphasizing customer service and revamping their cafeteria design. At Beaumont Magnet Academy a breakfast in the classroom service was implemented. This has created a more family style eating environment and increased participation by an amazing 107 percent.

Metro Nashville School Nutrition Services, Nashville, Tennessee

Metro Nashville School Nutrition Services (MNPS), have been awarded a Best Practice Award for their collaborative efforts with Alignment Nashville, Metro Health Departments grant communities Putting Prevention to Work, and MNPS parents to create the School Nutrition Committee. Through this partnership nutrition education, food safety, and food quality have improved. There has been an 86 percent increase in the number of fresh produce items served.

Jackson – Madison County School Nutrition Department, Jackson, Tennessee

Jackson – Madison County has received a Best Practice Award for their “Teens Teaching Tots” program. This program is designed to increase the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables among young children. It is a collaborative effort involving the School Nutrition Department and the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department. CTE high school students take their hydroponically-grown produce to elementary schools that have USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Programs and interact with children with lesson plans. The teens also help the young children pick out ingredients for their salads. The schools hosting the program have experienced an increase of 25 percent for salads and vegetables selected.

Last Update: February 2, 2015