School Lunches

School lunches are a travesty in the US.  This isn't new.  They are plagued by outdated laws, lazy and ignorant staff, and corporate lobbying.  Jamie Oliver also showed how a culture of pride in ignorant inertia instead of valuing performance improvement can contribute to schools fattening up our nation's children like pigs in a factory farm.  Money, however, is not necessarily a problem.

Paul Boundas is demonstrating how easy it is to serve kids delicious and nutritious food that they will eat for less than $2.74 per meal (unfortunately, the article does not say if that amount is just for food ingredients, or if it includes rent, utilities, equipment, cooks, etc...).  Boundas is a great example of what can be accomplished when authority is given to a knowledgeable person with a drive to experiment and apply scientifically proven techniques to the improvement of a system, instead of lazily allowing profiteering suppliers or people who have obviously not valued education or quality in their own lives, to direct programs and policy.

Here are some of the ways that Boundas effectively applied principles from psychology and business to efficiently improving the health and welfare of thousands of children:

  • He asks the kids what foods they like, then makes healthy versions of them.
  • He gradually increases the proportion of whole grain in his pasta without telling the kids until long after they've been happily eating it.
  • He gives foods names that kids associate with other foods they like instead of with foods they erroneously believe they would not like ("power bar" versus "granola").
  • He uses fresh ingredients.
  • He tailors his menu to what ingredients are inexpensive at the moment (quick breads from bananas that would have gone to waste).
These are things that parents can do at home, too.  Understand the power of expectation biases, and harness them to get your kids to eat good food.  Buy seasonal or discounted ingredients.  Work with your family instead of being a dictator.

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