Lawndale, CA, September 24, 2018– Lawndale Elementary School District (LESD) supports their families by offering a healthy and safe environment for their students to grow and learn. Over the past decade, the district has made student wellness a priority by implementing various health initiatives including the Smarter Lunchroom Movement (SLM). The SLM draws concepts from behavioral economics, marketing and psychology to create a lunchroom environment that promotes healthful choices. This holistic approach has been used to develop an array of no cost to low-cost strategies that can be implemented in school settings to positively impact students.
LESD’s Wellness Program has begun district-wide implementation of SLM strategies in all eight school cafeterias. One SLM strategy that has shown to be impactful is the inclusion of students in menu item selection through regular taste tests. This summer LESD’s Wellness Program conducted 24 nutrition lessons and taste tests with students enrolled in LESD’s before and after school program, Realizing Amazing Potential. Students were provided a 15-minute lesson on MyPlate or ReThink Your Drink and each lesson was followed by a taste test featuring a new recipe. Staff surveyed the students’ attitudes on each recipe and solicited feedback on potential names for preferred recipes. Students, ranging in age from six to 11 years old, reviewed 14 new recipes, and ultimately selected 10 for inclusion in the school menu.
Offering the nutrition lesson and taste test combined sessions allowed LESD to tackle two Smarter Lunchroom Strategies – increasing fruits and vegetables on school menus and increasing student involvement. After the recipe selection, the Wellness Program worked with students to develop appealing and creative names for these new entrees and fruit and vegetable items, which included the Krypton Kale Salad, Jurassic Trees, and Fall Harvest Salad.
The LESD Food Services Department and Wellness Program have worked to ensure that students do not go through their school day hungry. SLM has changed student perception of school meals by including them in taste tests, and both soliciting and utilizing their feedback to implement changes in menu options. Each SLM strategy is helping to increase student consumption of healthier food and beverage choices, which inevitably aids in student academic success.