Yesterday The College Fix reported that a school district in Wyoming is nixing federal monies for the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act — because kids hated the meals.
But Jefferson County Schools in Lakewood, Colorado have a different idea: offer students prizes if they’ll buy lunch.
Over the past two years, First Lady Michelle Obama has been pushing to make school lunches healthier. But, the result has been fewer students buying lunch nationwide. In Jefferson County, district leaders came up with an idea to change the trend.
“With all the new regulations and the changes that we’ve made, our lunch participation has gone down,” Lori Burris, Jeffco Schools lunch facilitator, said. “So, this was to be an incentive to try school lunch and maybe bring them back.”
Burris created the “Hungry to Win” contest. It is a raffle where students are entered to win prizes just for ordering a school lunch at any school in the district. She says lunch sales were down six percent in the fall of 2013.
“We think it’s because they don’t necessarily like some of the new changes that we’ve had to make,” Burris said. “The food is much healthier. We are lower in salt. We are lower in fat. We have more grain. We have more fresh fruit and vegetables, but it takes a little while for kids to get used to that.”
Students qualified to win smaller prizes like jump ropes, kites, movie tickets, and iTunes gift cards. But, they were also eligible to win grand prizes of bicycles and iPods.
Burris reports that lunch sales have jumped a “whopping” four percent since the contests began.
She might want to consider Wyoming’s Sheridan County’s solution, which pumped up lunch participation by twenty percent: scrap the federal guidelines. Based on Jefferson County’s demographics, the district probably could pull it off if it wanted to.
It is interesting, too, that Jeffco educators are willing to utilize such a blatant “extrinsic motivator” to get their kids to eat school lunches.
Does anyone else feel that once the prize “hook” is taken away that participation in the (lunch) program will plummet?
IMAGE: DC Central Kitchen/Flickr