Baylor Helps HISD “Nudge” Students Toward Healthier Food Choices

Food Services department to use $9,100 grant to address psychology behind behaviors

November 03, 2011

When it comes to taking good care of ourselves, sometimes all it takes to make better decisions is a little encouragement from a friend.

That’s why HISD’s Food Services department has teamed up with Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Nutrition Research Center to develop a set of visual and non-visual prompts, or “nudges,” to help students and their parents stay more informed about the many healthy choices available through the school meal program.

A visual “nudge” could be something as simple as a colorful placard in the serving line identifying a particular food or nutrition facts and recipes going home to parents in school newsletters. A non-visual “nudge” might involve a member of the cafeteria staff encouraging students to try something new or unfamiliar, or expressing excitement about the day’s offerings.

“This project is really interesting because it addresses some of the psychology behind healthy behaviors,” said HISD Food Services Senior Administrator Brian Giles. “We want to (use every tool at our disposal to) get students excited about the fact that these fruits and vegetables are coming from nearby farms…to introduce them to a wide variety so that they can experiment.”

The strategies developed in partnership with Baylor will be implemented at six HISD campuses in January: Berry, Lyons, and Walnut Bend elementary schools, Wilson Montessori, and two more to be determined.