- Author: Julie Cates
This is due to the efforts of James Lohry, director of Farmersville Unified School District Food Service. Lohry completed a program called “Smarter Lunchrooms,” sponsored by the Cornell University Behavior Economics Center, the California Department of Education, the Dairy Council of California, and the UC Cooperative Extension Cal Fresh nutrition education program.
In essence, the Smarter Lunchroom Movement uses evidence-supported product placement and signage to entice students to make healthier food choices. Lohry's initial exercise was to remove fruit from the traditional plastic bin and put it into a tiered basket, complete with cloth napkin liners. Overnight the elegant display increased fruit consumption by 20 percent.
UCCE nutrition education staff serve as certified technical advisors for the Smarter Lunchroom Movement. Before implementing changes, Lohry astutely gained support for cafeteria/lunchroom changes by including not only his staff, but the student population as well. The AVID class at Farmersville High School has been instrumental in determining menu choices. (AVID is a program that seeks to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness.)
Lohry and his staff/student team established surveys and guidelines about acceptable nutritious meals. When asked if the typical lunches are filling for this age group, the students' answer was “no.” The high school now offers a “deli bar” with healthy sandwich options at least once per month. This option is a huge hit and when asked if this meal is filling and satisfying, students overwhelming answer, “YES!”
Lohry's determination does not end with serving more fruit and adding sandwiches. He is working to increase healthy options without breaking the school district's budget.