At your service...

Contact us via email or call us in-state toll-free between 9:00am and 5:00pm MT at 1.888.231.9393, Local 406.444.3095


Questions or concerns about this webpage?
Please contact the OPI Help Desk at or 406.444.0087

Eat Smart Play Hard

School Nutrition:
Eat Smart. Play Hard. TM Cafeteria Toolkit

A Nutrition Education Toolkit to Connect the Cafeteria
to the Classroom, Parents and to the Community

School cafeterias are the perfect place to provide simple, reliable and creative nutrition education to students. It is a prime opportunity to teach children about healthy eating and physical activity while they enjoy their meals. Classroom teachers are busy. Oftentimes, nutrition education takes a back seat to other subjects. Montana Team Nutrition has designed this toolkit to provide an easy way to transform your cafeteria into a place where healthy eating is routine and learning about healthy foods and physical activity is fun. Included are tools and tips to connect the cafeteria with classroom teachers, parents and the community.

Five Easy Ways to Connect Cafeterias to the Classroom, Parents and to the Community

1. Teach balanced nutrition through your school breakfast and lunch menus. Make healthy options visible by describing these items on the menus. Use the menu formats, included in this kit, to share nutrition tips and information with families.
2. Promote the healthy foods served in your school meals programs by using the bulletin boards, newsletters and and static clings provided within this kit for cafeteria serving lines.
3. Link healthy eating to academic achievement by teaching nutrition across the curriculum.
4. Promote healthy role modeling by staff and parents to convey consistent nutrition messages to children.
5. Incorporate a year-long nutrition theme into your school meals program. Consider themes such as foods from around the world, locally-grown foods, a monthly-featured fruit or veggie or specific food group. Involve teachers, the librarian or parents in helping your staff coordinate each theme.

Cafeteria Kit Evaluation Form

The Eat Smart. Play Hard. TM Cafeteria Toolkit includes Promotional and Educational Materials:

Cafeteria Toolkit

Toolkit Promotional Materials

Menu templates (11-month menu calendars) which can be personalized by each school. Just type in your monthly menu, your school name and contact information, then print and distribute.
Menu Calendars August 2011 - June 2012

Four Bulletin Board Formats
The four bulletin board formats are based on these Eat Smart. Play Hard.TM themes:

  1. Breakfast - A Great Start to Being Smart- color
  2. Breakfast - A Great Start to Being Smart- black and white
  3. Super Snacks - color
  4. Super Snacks- black and white
  5. Balance Food and Play - color
  6. Balance Food and Play - black and white
  7. Move More Sit Less- color
  8. Move More Sit Less - black and white

These four bulletin boards are provided as samples for use in designing your own bulletin boards. The bulletin boards are in Word format; use them as is or modify as needed. Be creative with the bulletin boards. Use the paper food models provided as part of this kit to show examples of healthy snacks, whole grain foods, etc. Make a slot to put the newsletters from this kit in for students and staff. Post your monthly school breakfast and lunch menus on the board. Use colorful posters or work with the teachers to have students design and create a poster.

Families and Teachers Role Modeling for Good Health
Families Walking the Walk Fact Sheet
Teachers Walking the Walk Fact Sheet
Families...Get Fit, Have Fun! Statements promoting family physical activity to cut and paste onto school menus, newsletters, etc.

Sample Press Releases
Two sample press releases promoting school meals programs are available in Word format. Type in your local contact information, add some quotes and they are ready to use.
School Nutrition Media Release
Sample Feature Article

Fun, Exciting and Tasty Ways to Describe School Meals gives tips to create mouth-watering descriptions to jazz up the school menu.
What Food am I Guessing Game - a simple and fun guessing game that can be added to menus, newsletters, bulletin boards, or posted along serving lines.

Toolkit Educational Materials

Nine Parent/Teacher Newsletters which can be personalized by each school based on these Eat Smart. Play Hard.TM themes. Add your school name, contact information, month and year to each newsletter; print and distribute.
Balance Food and Play
Farm to School
Grab Quick and Easy Snacks
Healthy Classroom Parties and Rewards
Move More Sit Less
Positive Body Image
Power Up with Breakfast
Rethink Your Drink
Right Size Your Portions
Screen Free Week

Linking Lunch with Learning - Smart Eaters equals Good Readers
Breakfast and Reading: a Winning Combination
Children’s Books make Lunch and Learning Fun
Reading and Eating Healthy book ideas

A list of Eating Smart and Moving More Messages for Kids provides simple messages promioting healthy eating and physical activity to use in daily announcements, on newsletters, bulletin boards, menus, websites, etc.

USDA Team Nutrition Resources or go to the online order form
Team Up At Home books
Create Healthy, Active Celebrations

Eat Smart. Play Hard.TM Materials (activity sheets, lesson plans, brochures and posters) are located here and can be downloaded free of charge. Consider printing the activity sheets on the back of your monthly menu, or on the back of a parent newsletter. Classroom or health enhancement teachers may be interested in the lesson plans.

Healthy Reading Lessons include ten one-hour lessons that use popular children’s books, taste-testing activities, and literacy skill-building strategies to link nutrition education and physical activity promotion with the development of beginning reading skills.

Websites and Resources Used in the Development of this Cafeteria Kit

2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Eat Right Montana and the Healthy Families Monthly Media Packets

Eat Smart. Play Hard.TM Web site
Eat Smart. Play Hard.TM Materials (activity sheets, lesson plans, brochures and posters)

Louisiana Department of Education Bulletin Board Ideas

Michigan State University Extension Program

Montana Team Nutrition Program
Find age-appropriate and accurate nutrition education resources and lesson plans on the Nutrition Education Resources Website

North Carolina Division of Public Health Nutrition Services Branch

Seattle Public Schools Healthy Snacks Calculator
This is a useful tool to help determine if various snack foods or a la carte items meet a school district’s nutrition policy guidelines.

Team Nutrition Michigan

Texas Department of Agriculture Square Meals Program,1248,2348_2349_0_0,00.html

University of California, Berkeley

University of Minnesota Extension Nutrition Education Programs

USDA MyPyramid

USDA Team Nutrition Program
USDA Team Nutrition Resources or go to the online order form

Making It Balance and Kickin’ It Up- A Cycle Menu for Montana Child Care

boy with hula hoopThis toolkit was designed for participants of the Montana Child and Adult Care Food Program; although the information is helpful to any childcare provider. The menus (5 weeks of breakfast, lunch and one snack), with accompanying recipes and resources, are provided to assist childcare providers in serving healthy meals which are cost effective, easy to prepare, and appealing to children.

Why is nutrition and physical activity important in child care?

  • Nutritious foods and physical activity help young children grow both physically and mentally.

  • Childcare providers play an important role in children’s lives, especially by helping them to learn life-long healthy eating and physical activity habits.

  • Not only do caregivers have the opportunity to teach children but also to reach parents and families with nutrition and health information.

What’s in this toolkit?