Smarter Lunchrooms and Let’s Go! Maine – A Perfect Match

Healthy Food Choices in Schools February 01, 2017 Print Friendly and PDF

slm and lets go

The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement is championed in the state of Maine by Let’s Go!, a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program of the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center. Let’s Go! engages school nutrition programs as essential partners in helping to raise a healthier generation by providing ongoing support, training, and technical assistance through Let’s Go! School Nutrition Workgroups.[1] School Nutrition Directors and managers attend regional workgroup meetings to identify challenges and develop solutions to providing healthy school meals every day. 

Let’s Go! school nutrition programs embrace the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement, which provides evidence-based strategies on how to guide students to select and consume healthy food choices in schools. Each spring, schools participating in a Let’s Go! School Nutrition Workgroup have the opportunity to receive bronze, silver, or gold recognition based on the number of strategies from the Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard they implement. A Let’s Go! Smarter Lunchroom receives a large color poster recognizing them as a Let’s Go! Smarter Lunchroom, recognition on the Let’s Go! website, and a congratulatory letter is sent to the school superintendent and principal.

In spring 2016, 170 schools out of 252 eligible schools completed and submitted a Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard.[2] The average number of best practices adopted overall was 65 and the range was 22-97 out of 100. The most adopted sections of the Scorecard included Lunchroom Atmosphere, Moving More White Milk, and Entrée of the Day.  The least adopted sections included Student Involvement, A la Carte, Increasing Sales, and Recognition and Support, thereby identifying successes and opportunities for further exploration and focus.

 Let’s Go! Schools achieving Smarter Lunchroom recognition in 2016 by scoring bracket:

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Next year, members of the workgroups will focus on increasing use of Smarter Lunchrooms strategies in the least adopted sections while maintaining implementation of the other strategies. Members will support each other in addressing common barriers and sharing best practices.

Public health and community organizations like Let’s Go! are excellent facilitators and supporters of research-based practices in school lunchrooms. Local, regional, or statewide organizations know the communities, have established relationships, and can provide boots-on-the-ground support. The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement provides the research base, training materials, and national evaluation tools. It’s a perfect match!


Contributors 

Jackie Vine, MS, Let’s Go!, The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center

Heidi Kessler, MS, SNS, The Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs

References 

[1] Kessler, H.L.,Vine,J., & Rogers, V. W. (2015). Let's Go! School Nutrition Workgroups: Regional Partnerships for Improving School Meals. Journal of nutrition education and behavior, 47(3), 278-282.

[2] The Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard was mailed on March 18, 2016 to 252 Maine schools participating in Let’s Go! School Nutrition Workgroups. Reported results reflect responses from 170 completed Scorecards returned to the Let’s Go! home office in Portland, ME.

Get the Facts and Give School Lunch A Second Chance - Let's Go! 


 

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.