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A new movement towards healthier lunchrooms is happening in Iowa high schools by empowering students to assess and change their lunchrooms, helping to let take charge within their schools in making the healthy choice, the easy choice.
Students are allowed to help change their lunchrooms through the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement, that applies the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs (BEN) into simple low-cost concepts that improve nutrition and marketing for healthier choices.
With a three-pronged partnership between the Iowa Department of Education, the University of Iowa Public Policy, the College of Public Health and the Iowa Department of Education, five high schools across the state plan to let student’s use BEN to make decisions within their own lunchrooms.
In 2015, students, food-service directors, and staff were given assessment tools and toured the lunchroom analyzing the way their cafeterias focused in on promoting fresh fruits, vegetables, and salads and displayed healthy beverages, then asked to complete a BEN scorecard to determine their lunchrooms strengths and areas for improvement.
After surveying, students were allowed to determine possible intervention strategies and now are negotiating which changes could be feasible for their school’s lunchrooms.
Staff from schools have enjoyed the critiques and plan to evaluate sales, participation and take pre and post interviews to see how successful the intervention is to use in other schools across the state.
Studies show when Latino kids have more healthy choices and less junk food marketing in schools, they consumed less calories and less sugar and fats, having healthy options marketed in schools may help students make healthier choices.
To learn more about this change, click here.
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