What is it worth to you to have your child eat fruits and vegetables ? New federal rules to the school nutrition program have resulted in an extra $5.4 million in produce served every day. But students discard about 70% of it.
Published in the December 2013 issue of Public Health Nutrition , researchers from Brigham Young University and Cornell discovered that directly paying students to eat a fruit or vegetable can save money and increase intakes.
Just and Price conducted week-long experiments in 15 different schools. Some students earned a nickel, others a quarter, and still others earned a raffle ticket for a larger prize. Regardless of the reward the results were about the same. Produce intake increased by 80% and food waste declined by 33%. According to Price, “rewards can be really powerful if the activity creates a new skill or changes preferences”. Think “potty” training or your employer-based wellness program.
When the week of prizes ended, students went back to eating the same level of fruits and vegetables: no improvement but not less than before the rewards. Researchers are now testing to see if extending the rewards over 3-5 weeks will produce a lasting change. Stay tuned.
Post by Nadine