Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Unified School District's Students Unimpressed with Healthy Lunch

Well this is disappointing. In an effort to revamp the outdated school lunch program in LA’s Unified School District, school officials launched a massive overhaul to the current system. Corn dogs and chocolate milk were ditched in favor of quinoa and Caribbean meatballs.

Despite an updated menu that sounded both varied and exotic, students were less than enthused. Principals reported massive waste, hungry students, and a thriving “underground food market” offering chips, candy, and burgers to anyone willing to pay. Thousands unenrolled from the lunch program and opted to bring in their own fare instead.

Why was the healthy lunch program such a bust? Teenagers are a rebellious bunch by nature. They don’t like being told what to do or how to act and they like things that taste good, feel good, look good. So, it seems only natural that a district-wide school lunch switch-up would create at least some push back by the students.

How could this have been a more effective campaign? Studies show that even adults resist dietary tweaks such as reduced sodium when the change is abrupt. The most effective way to alter an individual’s palate in favor of healthy foods is to slowly introduce new flavors into the diet so nothing taste bland or unsatisfying at the start. Change is hard, so it’s important to move slowly and subtly.

Hopefully, the LA school district will re-evaluate the healthy lunch campaign and create a menu with some balance.

Everyone can take this advice to heart! If you’re looking to revamp your own life as we approach the New Year, remember – don’t try to change everything at once. Results will be longer lasting and far more likely to stick if changes are instituted bit by bit.

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