Pricing Strategies to Encourage Healthy Eating - Action for Healthy Kids
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Pricing Strategies to Encourage Healthy Eating

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Kids Holding Up ApplesOffering healthy foods for sale at school is sometimes not enough to get students to eat better. How can you encourage students to choose the healthy options your school offers? One way is to price healthier options so they are cheaper than their less healthy counterparts. Students (and parents) are cost-conscious and how much a snack costs can affect their purchasing decisions.

If your school participates in the National School Meal Program, foods for sale during the school day need to meet Smart Snacks Standards. Favorably pricing healthy food options will help promote these foods outside of the school hours, too.

Take Action

  • Complete an inventory of all foods and beverages sold on campus by price, including vending, a la carte, concessions and the school store.
  • Survey students and staff to learn about the kinds of healthy snacks they would like to see sold in school stores, concessions and other venues, and how price influences purchasing.
  • Work with school purchasing staff (your Food Service Manager) to determine product cost and possible profit margins to support sales.
  • Talk with your Food Service Manager about cooperative purchasing and even preparation assistance for fruits, vegetables and other fresh options.
  • When pricing items, consider a tiered pricing structure to make it easy to have a variety of healthy items, such as all fresh fruit at one price.
  • Consider rounding down prices to make the healthier choices a better bargain – and rounding up the price of less healthy items to offset cost.
  • Look at “bundling” items to improve nutritional value of snacks. For example, offer specials such as a free apple with the purchase of a sandwich.


Check out the Smart Snacks Standards to learn about healthier food and beverage options. While these requirements apply to foods and beverages sold during the school day, these guidelines can be applied to all foods sold to consistently encourage nutritious food choices.

Get student and staff input prior to introducing new products.

Compliment all changes with promotion and education on the new products available.

Have a volunteer lead and collect teacher and student surveys to learn about the kinds of healthy snacks they would like to see sold in school stores, concessions and other venues.

Engage volunteers to complete the above-mentioned inventory.