Healthy and Active Non-Food Rewards - Action for Healthy Kids
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Healthy and Active Non-Food Rewards

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How does your school reward kids for “good” behavior? Kids are often offered food, beverages and candy as rewards for accomplishments. Many of these foods have little nutritional value, but are easy, inexpensive and improve behavior in the short-term.

However, using food as a reward can teach kids to eat when they’re not hungry, a habit that could last a lifetime. It also shows kids that achievements should be marked by eating and can undermine healthy nutrition practices being taught at home or at school.

If you choose to reward children with food, consider healthy options like an apple, banana, carrot sticks, string cheese, or even low-fat milk. Better yet, focus on FUN rather than FOOD.

Take Action

Next time you want to reward your students or children, why not try a non-food, healthy option? Consider testing out some of these ideas. (SPANISH).

  • Present to staff about healthy and non-food rewards so they understand why it’s important and how they can do it.
  • Ask teachers to sign a “no-food-as-reward” pledge to demonstrate their commitment.


Verbal recognition is often the best reward.

Get student input to understand how they would like to be rewarded.

Publicly recognize teachers who give out healthy non-food rewards.

Recruit volunteers from local businesses to donate and distribute material rewards to the classroom like small toys, trinkets or pencils.

Recruit a special guest, such as an animal trainer or local dance troupe, to surprise the class for a unique reward.