Ross: New research confirms what we all know about school lunches

Sep 18, 2023, 8:08 AM | Updated: 1:32 pm

school lunches research...

Seventh graders sit together in the cafeteria during their lunch break at a public school. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

(AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

From time to time, we’ll hear about scientific studies that, after careful research, will rediscover something everybody knew 50 years ago.

At Texas A&M, grad student researchers looking for ways to get kids to eat vegetables actually sorted through the uneaten food tossed out by 8,500-grade school kids.

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They compared the amount of waste with the menu choices that day, and they found that when you serve broccoli alongside a burger, the broccoli can’t compete and ends up in the trash.

But if instead you put the broccoli next to, say, a bologna sandwich, suddenly the vegetable gets eaten.

In conclusion, always pair broccoli with something worse. I believe a graduate student just got his PhD

A University of Minnesota psychologist found an even more effective strategy. When the kids went through the lunch line, she just gave them the vegetables and sent them off to their tables. Kids were so hungry they ate four times as many vegetables.

Of course, as I recall, grade schools figured all this out 50 years ago. I don’t think they served any entree that could compete with the vegetables. When they handed out the menu for the entrees each week, the idea wasn’t to tempt you, it was to warn you that this is what the lunch lady has made, so be prepared to eat it.

Today, of course, with the pizza and the tacos and the nuggets that schools tend to serve, the farmers might as well take their vegetables directly to the landfills. It will save a lot of time.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: New research confirms what we all know about school lunches