Authored by Karen Schebaum
Has your school shifted away from using food as a reward and toward physical activity rewards? Do they use alternatives to food-based celebrations? If your school is a Let’s Go! school the answer is probably YES! Results from Let’s Go!’s 2013 Annual Report show that 66% of our responding schools were implementing or sustaining our priority strategy to “Provide Healthy Choices for Snacks and Celebrations in most or all classrooms.” And the same percentage was implementing or sustaining our priority strategy to “Provide Non-food Rewards in most or all classrooms.”
The numbers at a national level, however, don’t look so good. According to a recently released research brief:
- “The majority of survey respondents indicated that their school had no school-wide restriction on teachers using candy in classroom lessons, offering sugary items as reward for good student behavior or academics, or offering coupons or incentive programs (e.g., pizza parties for reading).
- Few schools had school-level polices to limit students form bringing in sugary items to be served during holiday parties or birthday parties, or to be eaten during regular snack time.”1
The good news is that “research shows that relevant district policies and state laws are associated with fewer schools allowing unhealthy products to be offered as rewards in the classroom, or through fundraisers.” Maine is a state fortunate enough to have a number of districts with policies supportive of healthier choices. Is your school district one of them?
Let’s Go!’s new 5-2-1-0 Goes to School Wellness Policy Guide is helping districts make strong, effective policies supportive of health choices… including non-food rewards! The guide helps schools integrate Let’s Go! strategies for healthy eating and active living into the school community through effective policy language and implementation planning.
Not sure what the policies are in your school or district?
Ask your school! Most districts have them posted on their website.
1Tuner L, Sandoval A, Chriqui JF, Chaloupka FJ. Competitive Foods and Beverages in Elementary School Classrooms: School Polices and Practices Allow Access to Unhealthy Snacks and Drinks—A BTG Research Brief, Chilco, IL: Bridging the Gap Program, Health Policy Center, Institute for Health Research and Policy, the University of Illinois at Chicago; 2013.