Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"Smarter Lunchrooms" Research Results

The final phase of nutrition regulations in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act will go into place this July, requiring school districts to offer more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables both in school meals and outside the meal program. With more than 31 million students receiving school meals each day, ensuring access to healthy food choices at school can have a powerful impact on students' overall health. Recognizing this, in 2012 Chartwells School Dining Services partnered with the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs (B.E.N. Center) to study the impacts of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and how principles from the nationwide Smarter Lunchrooms initiative can help students embrace nutritious foods.

Key findings include:

• Serving in Multiple Locations: Offering fruits and vegetables in more than one area of the cafe resulted in higher fruit and vegetable selection and consumption. Hot vegetables were selected 27 percent more and cold vegetables were selected 48 percent more when offered in multiple locations. In addition, fruit offered in more than one location resulted in less fresh fruit waste.

• Naming Vegetables: Adding fun descriptors like "Lean Mean Green Beans" and "Bring It On Broccoli" increased overall vegetable consumption by 18 percent, driven by a 50 percent increase in consumption of salad and cold vegetables specifically.

• Nutrition Labels: Displaying simple nutrition information for vegetables, including calories, fat, protein, and carbohydrate content, resulted in a 30 percent decrease in overall vegetable waste, which translated to a 35 percent increase in vegetable consumption among students who selected vegetables.

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