Although a lot of attention has been paid recently to the nutritional content of food served in school meals, Sodexo, the leader in Quality of Life services and trusted education partner to nearly 500 school districts across the country, is also focusing on changing student behaviors around food and beverage choices through a partnership with the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement. By working together, Sodexo and the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement will use simple behavior-change techniques to improve student health and achievement.
The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement, a program developed by the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs under the direction of Dr. Brian Wansink and Dr. David Just, is a grassroots effort to equip school lunchrooms with simple and little to no cost tools that will improve child eating behaviors and thus improve the health of children. The Smarter Lunchroom movement works with industry; national non-profit groups and local schools around the country to help change and improve the way kids eat in cafeterias.
Sodexo will begin using basic principles associated with behavioral economics to emphasize healthier dining options in school lunchrooms. Student nutrition teams will use techniques like positioning healthier options in service lines to make them more visible; creating attractive displays to further showcase healthier food and beverage options and coming up with creative names to make healthier choices more appealing.
“We find that students know more about good nutrition than ever before, but that knowledge doesn’t always translate directly to cafeteria choices,” said Steve Dunmore, president of Sodexo Education-Schools. “Sometimes students need a little nudge to point them in the right direction and our work with the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement is aimed to do just that.”
The Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs’ research revealed that promoting foods in accordance to the Smarter Lunchroom Movement suggestions can increase sales of fruit by 102%, increase selection of vegetables from 40 to 70%, increase percentage of white milk sales and increase the number of students making healthier menu choices overall. Sodexo is looking to replicate those results in the districts the company serves.
“Smarter Lunchrooms is all about low cost – no cost ways to improve student nutrition,” said Dr. Brian Wansink, the John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing and Consumer Behavior at Cornell University. “It’s amazing what can be accomplished with simple things like moving fruit into a nicer bowl and putting it out where kids can see it. Our research has validated a variety of easy, cheap and effective ways you can help lead kids towards healthier choices.”
In addition to this nationwide program, Sodexo is working with the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement to pilot a program focused on consumption of foods selected. This is the next step in effecting behavioral change around student nutrition choices.
Sodexo is the global leader in services that improve Quality of Life, an essential factor in individual and organizational performance. Operating in 80 countries, Sodexo serves 75 million consumers each day through its unique combination of On-site Services, Benefits and Rewards Services and Personal and Home Services. Through its more than 100 services, Sodexo provides clients an integrated offering developed over more than 45 years of experience: from reception, safety, maintenance and cleaning, to foodservices and facilities and equipment management; from Meal Pass, Gift Pass and Mobility Pass benefits for employees to in-home assistance and concierge services. Sodexo’s success and performance are founded on its independence, its sustainable business model and its ability to continuously develop and engage its 420,000 employees throughout the world.
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Sodexo, Inc. (www.sodexoUSA.com), leading Quality of Life services company in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, delivers On-site Services in Corporate, Education, Health Care, Government, and Remote Site segments, as well as Benefits and Rewards Services and Personal and Home Services. Sodexo, Inc., headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md., funds all administrative costs for the Sodexo Foundation (www.SodexoFoundation.org), an independent charitable organization that, since its founding in 1999, has made more than $17 million in grants to end childhood hunger in America. Visit the corporate blog at www.blogs.sodexousa.com.