Eat your fruits and vegetables! How many of you heard this at some time in your childhood? We’ve all had at least one person looking over our shoulders and trying to encourage us to make healthier food choices, and for good reason. Nothing has changed. Fruits and vegetables
- are packed with nutrients everyone needs for good health,
- their consumption has been linked to lower rates of certain diseases like cancer and
- they help to satisfy hearty appetites.
But why don’t kids buy into the idea that fruits and vegetables are good for them? Could the answer be as simple as positioning and choice?
According to researchers at the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs positioning and choice can indeed influence students to make healthier food choices without even realizing it! While this is great news, some have challenged if selection leads to consumption. As many leaders have said time again,” it’s not nutrition if the students don’t eat it.”
Fortunately Sodexo schools have helped to validate that not only can the principles and tactics associated with the Cornell University’s recognized Smarter Lunchrooms Movement encourage students to select fruits and vegetables, but the tactics have also helped to reduce plate waste, meaning students are indeed consuming what they were putting on their plates. In a recent lunchroom analysis, after implementing the Smarter Lunchroom pilot program in Sodexo served schools, 21% more vegetables were eaten and fruit consumption rose by 14%.
Sodexo schools also recently committed to the Partnership For A Healthier America to expand the Smarter Lunchrooms program in all Sodexo schools. Sodexo schools focus on making healthy, attractive and convenient food options available for students and the lunchroom menu is designed to provide a variety of food options. Having the ability to make a choice allows students to take ownership in the healthy foods they select. No one likes to be told what to do, but when given a choice we feel more empowered. This same understanding of human behavior carries over into food choices for people of all ages.
Implementing an effective Smarter Lunchrooms Program can help make kids, and adults, make healthier food choices. It’s a simple, common sense solution that can make a big difference in the lives of students across America.
Roxanne Moore (MS, RD) is the national director of wellness for Sodexo Schools. Roxanne has over 18 years of experience specializing in nutrition education and has developed programs for healthcare, government programs, schools, restaurants and supermarkets.