Taste Texting: A Pre-Order System for Fresh and Healthy High School Lunch

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The obstacles to serving and choosing healthy school lunches today are many.  To address these challenges, we propose a simple coordinated text and web-based order system that will leverage prompting, choice, placement, pre-commitment and convenience to encourage high school students to unknowingly make better choices at lunch. The proposed program will make fresh, healthy, reimbursable school meals available for pre-order and pick up at an express kiosk located apart from the main cafeteria service area, allowing students to skip lengthy lunch lines, avoid the temptation of energy dense foods, and enjoy more of their lunch hour with friends.

Primary Objective

The primary objective of this project is to improve fruit, vegetable, and fiber intake among high school students by increasing the proportion of healthy reimbursable meals selected and consumed at lunch.

Secondary objectives include: 1) increasing participation in school lunch; 2) increasing the efficiency and profitability of the school lunch program; 3) decreasing cafeteria congestion and thus increasing the amount of unrushed time that students have to consume their food; 4) increasing sales of healthy ala carte items like fresh fruit and unflavored milk; and 5) keeping more students on campus for lunch.   We hypothesize that behavioral economics factors such as placement and convenience (front of the line; kiosk set apart from cafeteria lines) of healthy grab-and-go lunch options will enhance sales. However, we expect the largest impact on sales and cafeteria efficiency/profit will come from combining the pre-order text/web system and kiosk pick-up, and that this system will also increase healthy meal selection (and fruit, vegetable, fiber intake) among a sample of 200 high school students.

Key Contacts

Principal Investigator: Alice Ammerman
Email: alice_ammerman@unc.edu