Economists actually calculated that in the school lunch program an additional $6 million in fruits and veggies are served nationwide, per day, and about $4 million are thrown away.Recognizing that the food waste is criminal, Brigham Young and Cornell researchers looked to good old fashioned bribery to see if the kids would eat the produce. With a reward as simple as a nickel, students were, in fact, eating their Lima beans. Ask most parents, bribery works. Unfortunately, after researchers left, the eat-dump ratio returned to norms.
Cash incentives cost less than the food waste but schools can try non-cash rewards, such as extra recess, if they buy in to using extrinsic rewards for healthy habits. But maybe, just maybe, external rewards can create, through repeated exposure, healthy internalized HABITS.
(Public Health Journal, December 2013)