Many nutritious foods can be found in lunchrooms across the district. Each day, the
cafeterias are filled with fresh fruit and vegetable options, along with things like hummus and even salad bars in select schools. We are offering a plethora of options – but are the students taking these foods? The challenge now is to have students select these items over the less healthful options. It is time to make our lunchrooms Smarter!
In the 2015/2016 school year, the Food Service Department will be implementing changes to the cafeterias to encourage smarter food selections in students and increase participation in the meal program. The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement is a program that uses evidence-based practices to get kids to eat more healthfully without them giving it too much thought.
The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement has been developed in Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, a think tank that focuses on issues related to child health, school environments and behavioral sciences. The Movement was founded in 2009 and has already produced some promising results. The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement nudges students to make healthy food decisions on their own. This is proven to be more effective than simply taking away the unhealthy foods. By adding appeal to healthier options available in schools, students are more likely to choose them on their own and to repeat their choice in the future.
The cafeteria changes involve four major makeovers. The Food Service Department will be focusing on the following topics:
Naming Vegetables – Giving the less popular healthy food items – like vegetables – fun and catchy names increases the appeal of these items and encourages a child to try the food. Try some “X Ray Vision Carrots” next time you visit an elementary school!
Promoting White Milk Consumption – Removing flavored milk from school lunch has shown to be counter-productive. The Food Service Department will leave the flavored milk in the coolers, but encourage the consumption of white milk through visual aids and milk placement on the lunch line.
Improving Visibility of Produce – Attractive fruit bowls will be used to highlight the beautiful fresh fruit that is being served daily. Fruit will be placed in several places in the lunch line to encourage kids to pick a piece up.
Advertising Healthy Food Choices – New menu boards will be used to highlight the menu so that the students are primed for the meal that awaits them. Colorful and decorative boards will showcase the creative vegetable names and the main entree for the day.
For more information on the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement, check out the website. You can also follow the status of the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement in Pittsburgh Public Schools by checking out the Tumblr page.
To read the full Smarter Lunchrooms in Pittsburgh Public Schools 2015-2016 report, please click here.