Having trouble getting kids to eat healthy menu options? Below are simple low-cost and no-cost solutions to increase healthy food consumption without breaking the budget or your back:
Convenience is key! Place healthy items next to the cash register. Bottlenecks occur at cash registers leaving students too much time to think about something extra to buy. Replace desserts with fruits or healthy beverage like 100% juice or low-fat milk. If schools only have desserts in this prime location, students are more likely to take them.
1.) Make vegetables and fruits the “default” sides. Students are more likely to pick the default side dish than request a different one. Make vegetables and fruit the default sides for lunchroom entrees. On a similar principle, include low fat milk with lunches. Have less-healthy drinks available only by request– students will be less likely to purchase/request them.
2.) Prompt students at the cash register– ask if they would like “a fruit or a vegetable.” Have cafeteria staff ask if students would like vegetables with their entrees. Verbal prompts can cue food choices and eating behaviors. 70% of students in a 2007 study at Yale University ate a serving of fruit at a meal when school cafeteria staff asked if they would like a fruit or fruit juice. Only 40% of students ate a serving of fruit when not prompted.
3.) Stay synced by keeping online menus or take-home menus current. Behavioral studies show individual who made food choices before being confronted with distractions were more likely to follow through on their dietary objectives. Allowing students (or for younger children, their parents) to select healthy meal options ahead of time also may help reduce purchases of less nutritious foods in the cafeteria..1
4.) Increasing the amount of lighting on healthy foods to make them seem more appetizing.
5.)Make healthy foods more accessible and within reach. Example: put fruit cups at eye level and in easy-to-transport containers
6.)In the hot lunch line, feature the vegetable or healthier options first, and the unhealthy options last. Students may be more likely to choose the options they see or are offered first.