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Food and Beverage Marketing at School

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Overview

kids with fruits and a poster about fresh produceTake a look around your school cafeteria and hallways. What kinds of foods and beverages does your school market to students? Are you promoting healthy options? While it can be a significant funding source for schools (particularly for athletic programs), advertising less healthy foods and beverages can send conflicting messages to students that have been learning about good nutrition in the classroom.

Take Action

  • Review your district’s local school wellness policy. These policies are required to include language about restricting food and beverage marketing. Understanding what’s allowable in your district will help you make decisions about what you can do.
  • Make a list of all healthy and unhealthy food and beverage marketing occurring at your school. Identify 2-3 priorities where you would like to see changes.
  • Do your research. Is your school earning money by displaying food and beverage advertisements? If so, how much is your school earning? Is there a particular department or program that benefits from these funds?
  • If your school receives funding for displaying advertisements, brainstorm healthier fundraising practices that could be utilized to generate the same amount of funding.
  • Promote healthy food and beverage options wherever possible. Work with your school health team to determine areas throughout the school building that have the most student foot traffic or where students are most likely to make food and beverage purchases. Develop a plan to promote healthy marketing in these spaces.
  • Market healthy options through taste tests, raffle prizes and other incentives.
  • Consider offering and promoting healthy options like water, fruit, and vegetables to students at school events, sport games, after-school activities, concession stands, or award ceremonies.
  • Require vendors to feature healthier foods and beverages such as water or 100% fruit juice.
  • Ask your vending machine vendor if they will place your school logo on the sides of vending machines to limit images of less healthy food and drinks (and to promote school spirit!).

Tips

Collaborate with other schools within your district to discuss and share ideas on healthy advertising.

If you aren’t successful in removing unhealthy advertisements, ramp up your efforts as much as possible to promote healthy options.

Partner with parents. Garner parent support during Parent Teacher Association meetings, back to school events and parent-teacher conferences to decide on areas to improve food marketing and advertising at school.

Engage school nutrition staff as partners in this effort. For example, do they want to increase sales for a particular healthy food or beverage? Use it as an opportunity to market something healthy.

Recruit a parent volunteer to lead the charge when it comes to the school’s food & beverage marketing efforts—you might even find a volunteer with an expertise in marketing.

Have volunteers reach out to companies that offer healthy snacks to ask for swag or samples to market their healthy product(s) to students.

Engage volunteers to overhaul fundraising efforts and institute healthy fundraising activities.