District Makes Healthier Cafeteria Options More Convenient
A Minnesota school district with a 47% American Indian population made small changes to improve cafeteria options.


School cafeteria

Small changes at small schools turned into big rewards in the Kelliher School District in rural northern Minnesota. A push to replace sodium with herbs and spices in foods was one of many changes. Cafeteria staff also gave creative, catchy names to foods and structured lunch lines so healthier food options were easier to reach. As a result, the district’s students, including a 47% American Indian population, have healthier food choices.


Because of these healthy changes, the Kelliher School District was the first in the United States to receive the Gold Award of Distinction under new, harder-to-achieve criteria in the 2015 US Department of Agriculture’s HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC): Smarter Lunchrooms competition. Other rural districts in Minnesota are making similar changes to reduce sodium in school meals and cook healthier foods from scratch. They are also embedding health and wellness goals for staff and students to improve the healthy school environment. Local champions are providing support to schools for completing CDC’s School Health Index and devising action plans which will affect 4,743 students in the district.

This program was supported by CDC’s State Public Health Actions to Prevent and Control Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity, and Associated Risk Factors and Promote School Health cooperative agreement (DP13-1305).