Getting kids to put fruits and veggies on their plates might be mandatory in schools, but getting them to actually eat those healthy foods is a whole other battle. According to the School Nutrition Association, during each school year, $684 million of fruits and veggies end up in the trash instead of in children’s bellies.
But researchers with the Smarter Lunchroom Movement, part of the Cornell University Center for Behavioral Economics, have found that if you can entice children to choose healthier foods—not just take them out of obligation—they are more likely to actually eat them.
Here are 5 easy and low-cost ways to help children choose and eat healthy foods that you can implement right away.
Creative signs draw students’ attention to healthy food offerings. Tongass School of Arts and Sciences in Alaska, creates big signage for the menu offerings every day, “so kids know right when they walk into the lunch room ‘these are my choices, this is what’s for lunch today,’” says Emily Henry, Wellness Coordinator for Tongass and other schools.
Personalize signage any way you like with the versatile and mobile Camkiosk®.
Position fruit at the front and end of the lunch line, so students have a second opportunity to grab something healthy if they missed the first. Fruits and veggies should be easy to see and easy to reach, even for the smallest students. Cutting fruit also makes it more attractive. Henry says that in her experience, “kids are more likely to grab cut up oranges or apples instead of a whole one.”
The Versa Food Bar® makes displaying and serving fruits and veggies a breeze.
Researchers with the Smarter Lunchroom Movement advise making the entrée with the greatest nutrient density the first option in line, because hungry kids tend to select the first item they see.
Serve up your healthy entrees in one of our Compartment Trays.
When fruits or veggies have fun or interesting names, kids tend to eat more, say researchers with the Smarter Lunchroom Movement. Silly names like “X-Ray Vision Carrots” appeal to younger kids, while older kids respond to descriptive terms like “Succulent Summer Corn.”
Kids make healthier choices when it is easy or convenient to do so. Place regular milk in front of sugary drinks to get more students to take the healthy option.
Using Camchillers® will keep milk at a safe temperature for hours in your cart or salad bar.