Want to double fruit sales in schools? A new Cornell University study shows it is as easy as putting the fruit in a colorful bowl. According to research presented this week at the American Dietetic Association Conference in San Diego, CA by Brian Wansink, Professor at Cornell University, "Moving the fruit increased sales by 104%." This is only one of the changes proposed through the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement of the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs (BEN).
BEN has garnered the White House's support to help fight childhood obesity. Sam Kass, the White House chef, and Let's Move, Michelle Obama's initiative to solve the childhood obesity epidemic, have recently teamed up with BEN to progress toward this goal through the Chef's Move to Schools program.
David Just and Brian Wansink, co-directors of BEN, met with White House and USDA staff as well as several food and foodservice industry leaders to discuss the facets of the collaboration. The Chef's Move to Schools program will mend the disconnect by making traditional lunchtime innovative and healthy. This partnership will provide wider access to BEN center research, allowing more schools to use simple, cheap, and effective tools to lead children to choose healthier food. "This is a great opportunity to improve kids' school meal choices. Everyone involved is enthusiastic and eager to help make school lunch exciting as well as nutritious. The Chef's Move to Schools program is a great way for chefs to capture kids' imaginations with a healthy and wholesome messageand make a lasting difference," says David Just, also a Professor at Cornell University.
The BEN center has analyzed multiple school lunchroom layouts and designs that hindered student's selection of nutritious foods. The lunchrooms were revamped with easy, low-cost/no-cost environmental changes that resulted in an increase in healthy food choices. On a broader level, the BEN center works with researchers and policy makers to make important high-level decisions that impact healthy food environments nationwide.