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Making School Cafeteria Lunches Smarter

Author: Cornell Food & Brand Lab

Published: 2010-10-23

Synopsis and Key Points:

School Nutrition Association New York conference shows the easiest way to lunchroom choices in school cafeterias.

Main Digest

Behavioral economics and school nutrition...

Don't ban it, move it. This is one conclusion of a new Cornell University study. In one set of schools, sales of fruit increased by 100% when it was moved to a colorful bowl. Salad bar sales tripled when the cart was placed in front of cash registers.

These findings presented at the School Nutrition Association's New York conference, underscore the easiest way to lunchroom choices is to make an apple more convenient, cool, and visible than a cookie. The conclusion of six different studies with over 11,000 middle and high school studies show that psychology and economics might be better outlawing tasty food.

"It's not nutrition until someone eats it. You need to have foods that kids will eat, or they won't eat - or they'll eat worse" said Chris Wallace, Food Service Director for the Corning, New York School District.

We're focusing on giving Food Service Directors "low-cost/no cost" changes they can make immediately, said Brian Wansink, Co-Director of the Cornell Center of Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs (BEN).

During his research presentation, he described other studies which showed:

The Cornell Center (BEN.Cornell.edu) is funded by the USDA and will be awarding research grants to determine additional "low-cost/no cost" changes that schools can make to improve what kids eat and can improve participation in the school lunch program.

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