What's it about?
Let’s face it: healthy eating can be a tough sell. Sometimes it’s hard for students to avoid the lure of food and drink high in sugar, fat, salt, or caffeine.
This strategy is about levelling the playing field. It taps into the 4 Ps of marketing: product, placement, price, and promotion. These are factors that influence our decision to choose, buy, or consume healthy food and drink.
With attention to the 4Ps, you can give healthy options a chance to compete with less nutritious ones.
The 4Ps of marketing are based on sound science, but you may need to adapt them to suit the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Follow routine public health practices and know the requirements for safely serving food in your school authority. Contact your local AHS public health inspector if you need support or would like to set up a school food inspection.
Increase the number of healthy products available through school meal and snack programs, or for sale in cafeterias, canteens, and vending machines. For example:
- Offer more nutritious food options, like vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and protein foods.
- Offer fewer products high in salt, sodium, sugar, or caffeine.
- Use healthy cooking methods, like grilling and baking.
- Serve plain water and unsweetened milk.
- Ask students and families about the healthy products they’d like to have available at school—options that suit their tastes, cultural preferences, and family traditions.
Make the healthy choice the better price:
- Lower the cost of nutritious food and drink
- Consider raising the cost of less nutritious items
Clearly display all food and drink prices so students can easily see that healthy options are lower-cost.
Nudge students toward healthy options by making them convenient and attractive. For example:
- Put healthy choices at eye level in front of other items.
- Put less nutritious options out of reach or available by request.
- Pre-slice or pre-package vegetables and fruits.
- Use attractive bowls, containers, and wooden crates to display healthy food and water.
Make nutritious options stand out. Try these fun and creative ideas:
- Make up a healthy eating slogan for your school.
- If you have a canteen or cafeteria menu, list healthy items at the top and make daily features.
- Try using catchy food names, like x-ray vision carrots or berry blast smoothie.
- Get school food staff to use verbal prompts like “how about some fruit to go with your meal?”
- Try visual prompts like posters, labels or stickers to help students identify healthy food and drink—put them right on the front of vending machines, and display them where students eat or buy food.
Use visual prompts that show diverse body sizes, genders, and cultures enjoying healthy food and drink.
Avoid images that promote weight bias or stigma.
How it connects
Competitive pricing and other marketing strategies have been shown to increase the sale of healthy food and drink at school, and to boost the intake of vegetables, fruit, and water. Bonus: these strategies have not been shown to decrease revenue in cafeterias, canteens, or vending machines.
Marketing healthy food at school is a fun and creative way support a whole school approach to school nutrition, and a great way to get students actively involved in decision-making about the school food environment.
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