Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Still Not Focusing on Sex Education...

Remember Jamie’s School Dinners? Well, some schools in Glasgow (that’s in Scotland) have come up with a way to get kids to choose healthy dinners. And no, it doesn’t involve screaming or yelling, just bribery.

As reported in The Times on May 20 (another ‘archive’ problem), students in 29 Glaswegian secondary schools get points based upon their meal choices. At the end of the term, students can redeem their points for things like movie tickets and iPods.

To earn the maximum points, choose a Vital Mix meal – soup, a pitta (I suppose this is a ‘pita’), yoghurt, raisins, and milk. This costs only £1.15 and nets the student 40 points. Fresh fruit or salad earns you 15 points, and a baked potato is worth 10. Pizzas, burgers, and hot dogs are three points each while chips (fries) and crisps (chips) are worth zero. Water earns 15 points, milk earns 10, and fizzy drinks (soft drinks) earn none. To receive an iPod-20GB Click Wheel MP3 player, you only need 4,000 points. This is only 100 Vital Mix meals, not too bad really…especially compared with 1,333 hot dogs. (For those with shorter-term goals, movie tickets are only 850 points).

The plan is costing Glasgow about £40,000 but since it started a year ago the number of students eating school dinners has risen from 46% to 70%. With nearly 21,000 students eating school dinners, the city council is able to have a much more direct influence on what children eat for school dinners. And, at less than £2 per student, it’s certainly a lot cheaper than the health care costs years down the road.


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