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Story by Sgt. Melissa ParrishSmall RSS Icon

The Smarter Lunchroom Movement Staff Sgt. Melissa Parrish

Chris Stephans, a 5th grader at Irwin Intermediate School, goes through the line and orders the “Crazy Chicken Sandwich,” from the new named menu. Chris said that he likes the name, and the chicken sandwich has always been his favorite menu item.

FORT BRAGG, N.C.— A make over to most means completely changing the way something looks. That was not the case for Fort Bragg Irwin Intermediate School cafeteria.

Irwin was the first cafeteria on post to get a healthy mini-make-over by the team of professors from the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs (BEN), Nov. 13, 2013.

Only a few changes were made to help the students choose healthier food options.

“We are trying to make it to where the children want to take a fruit, but the cookie is still a choice,” said Brian Wansink, Professor at Cornell University and Director of the smarter lunchroom movement.

The mission of the Smarter Lunchroom Movement is to provide tools that improve students eating habits with little or no cost.

“There are some simple things these cafeterias can do that are low cost and often no cost to improve the way students choose what they will eat for lunch,” said Wansink.

Wansink and a team of researchers have studied different methods to see what will effectively help people eat healthier with out thinking about it.

“We have found that when you simply rearrange food, the order the food is in impacts what you take first,” said Wansink.“People are 11 percent more likely to take what’s 1st in line rather than the 3rd option so we moved the healthiest entrée first and the healthiest vegetables first,” said Wansink.

Wansink and his team of researchers also found that renaming foods is a way to peak the student’s curiosity and get them to try new foods they may not have wanted to try before.

“We renamed the chicken sandwich today and all of the vegetables,” said Wansink. “By naming it the Crazy Chicken Sandwich and Bravo Broccoli it should increase the likelihood of a someone taking it by 27 percent.”

Some schools have even involved the kids in coming up with the names of the food.

“Getting the students involved gives them an interest in the food also,” said Wansink.

Doris Hickman, child nutrition director for Fort Bragg Schools, said that she is open to anything that will help the children eat even healthier than they already are.

“We were already ahead of the game here on Fort Bragg,” said Hickman. “We have healthy options for students and my inventory numbers show that they are choosing healthy options. So anything that will make those numbers even higher is something I am willing to try.”

Wanksink and his team also placed a fruit basket at the entrance of the line.

“This is a very simple thing everyone can do in their school cafeterias,” said Wansink. “If someone sees fruit as soon as they walk in they are more likely to choose healthier menu items as well as grab a fruit with their meal”

The goal here is to show people that by making a few low to no cost changes the students end up eating healthier without even realizing it, said Wansink.

“The goal is to get all of the schools on post and all of the dining facilities using these simple changes to encourage healthy eating,” said Wansink.

There were a few simple things changed in the cafeteria and all with hopes of healthier eating habits for the students. The team hopes that by 2020 all of the school cafeterias and dining facilities nationwide will have these changes in effect.


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This work, The Smarter Lunchroom Movement, by SGT Melissa Parrish, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:11.13.2013

Date Posted:11.21.2013 09:37



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