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School Meals Initiative


Food and Nutrition Programs

School Meals Initiative for Healthy Children (SMI)

In June of 1994, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) established nutrition standards for meals served in the
National School Lunch Program and the  and the School Breakfast Program called the School Meals Initiative for Healthy Children (SMI). USDA's vision of SMI is, "To improve the health and education of children through better nutrition." SMI was designed to reflect current, research-based nutrition recommendations found in the Recommended Dietary Allowances, the nutrient standards for school meals, and The Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

SMI guidelines require schools to offer additional servings of grains, fruits, and vegetables; to decrease the salt and sugar in reimbursable meals; and to limit total fat to 30% of calories, and saturated fat to 10% of calories in the reimbursable meals over one week.

The USDA developed new meal planning options for schools to assist them in meeting SMI standards. To evaluate how well schools meet the SMI goals, a computerized nutritional analysis of the planned reimbursable meals is conducted by the PDE during the school's on-site Coordinated Review Effort (CRE). The federal guidelines describing the initiative in greater detail can be found in Federal Regulations 7 CFR 210 and 220.

To help schools initiate the new policy, the USDA also created Team Nutrition, a program to continuously improve the quality of school meals and to educate students, school personnel, parents, and the community about healthful nutrition practices. Team Nutrition materials assist school food service personnel by providing technical assistance with meeting SMI guidelines. Students, teachers, and parents benefit from Team Nutrition through the myriad nutrition education materials available. Schools can enroll as a Team Nutrition School at the TEAM Nutrition website.

School Meals Initiative Implementation Study: Third Year Report, June 2002

School Nutrition Dietary Assessment II



For additional information, please contact:

Vonda Cooke (Fekete) | Division Chief
Pennsylvania Department of Education - Division of Food and Nutrition
333 Market Street | Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
Phone: 800.331.0129
RA-NSLP@pa.gov | www.education.state.pa.us