Introducing Healthy Food Choices
A Resource for Schools -- Cape Breton Schools share their experiences and lessons learned
∑ Phasing it in slowly
∑ Providing choice and flexibility (be willing to change menu items if they arenít popular)
∑ Introducing foods from different cultures
∑ Gradually and quietly introducing whole wheat into menu; kids really donít notice the change
∑ Involving students Ė creative drawing contests in the cafeteria, menu ideas and suggestions, taste tests
∑ Establishing standard pricing/flat rates Ė it makes it easier for the parents too!
∑ Involving our cook or cafeteria manager in the redesign of the menu and providing tasty food that is attractively prepared
∑ Principals and teachers actively involved in leading and modelling the change
∑ Communicating with the students openly and consistently about the reason for and benefits of the change
∑ Involving parents and volunteers. Programs donít work without their involvement and support. They are a vital link.
What isnít working
∑ Sudden change, removing all unhealthy food and beverage options at once. They left the school to eat elsewhere
∑ Certain menu items have been less popular
∑ Use a gradual, phased-in approach
∑ Make it fun, involve the students, teachers, parents and volunteers
∑ Be flexible, be prepared to make adjustments as you go
∑ Pay attention to pricing. A few cents can make the difference in whether items sell, or not. Consider flat rate pricing to make it easy for parents, students and staff.
∑ Provide choice and variety.
∑ Lead by example.
∑ Communicate positively, openly and consistently.
∑ Explore ways to involve community clubs and organizations in fundraising.
So far, so good
∑ Sales, in some schools, have gone up
∑ Students are enthusiastic and like the new menu
∑ More students are remaining in the school for meals making it easier to get them back in time for classes
∑ Fundraising alternatives are proving successful
∑ Healthy eating is being integrated with physical activity for a more wholistic approach to health and well-being
Top 10 Most Popular Menu Items
Prepared by Nova Scotia Health Promotion and Protection in collaboration with the Department of Education and Cape Breton schools
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