The HCSD Food Services Department was given a Silver Medal after undergoing a voluntary “Smarter Lunchroom” (SLM) assessment last month. The reports determined that the cafeterias at M.C. Smith Elementary School and Hudson Junior/Senior High School “are off to an excellent start to inspiring kids to eat healthier.”

About Smarter Lunchroom

The Smarter Lunchroom initiative is rooted in psychology and provides strategies to help improve students’ nutritional choices and eating behavior. Examples include placing sugary drinks (e.g., juice, Gatorade) behind healthier low-sugar beverage options (e.g., water, milk) and renaming menu items with more creative titles. Watch this short video to see these strategies in action.

About the SLM Assessment

The SLM assessment was performed by Megan Dhanabala, a Nutrition Educator from Cooperative Cornell Extension’s SNAP-Ed New York Hudson Valley Region (SNAP-Ed HV). Dhanabala contacted the District about joining the HCSD Wellness Committee when she was assigned to Columbia and Greene Counties.

“Megan had recently joined our school wellness committee and within that framework I volunteered to undergo this assessment, ” said Chris Bateman, Food Services Director. “Overall it went very well and we are proud of the results.”

Below is a summary of our strengths as well as opportunities to advance our school cafeterias to gold status.


  • The variety in texture and color of fruits and vegetables that are offered
  • Colorful posters showing how to make a healthy plate are displayed in the lunchroom
  • The wonderfully presented salad bar that is fully stocked and offers a variety of vegetable and fruit options (Jr./Sr. High School)
  • Pre-packaged salads are available to all students (Elementary School)
  • The dining area is well lit, cleaning supplies are not visible and trash cans are at least 5 feet away from dining students
  • The lunchrooms are branded/decorated in a way that reflects the student body



  • The use of creative names for featured menu items on signs and on the school menu (and perhaps involving students in the naming process)
  • Fruit can be offered in at least two locations on all service lines, one of which is right before each point of sale (Elementary School)
  • White milk could be displayed in front of other beverages in coolers
  • Student artwork/projects to decorate the lunchrooms
  • Give students opportunities to volunteer in the lunchroom (Jr./Sr. High School)

Click here to download the SLM Assessment Report for MCS Elementary School (697 KB)

Click here to download the SLM Assessment Report for Hudson Jr/Sr High School (723 KB)

Photos in the reports and posted here are courtesy of Megan Dhanabala.