Health Incentives

There are good reasons why fast food restaurants proliferate in the poorest neighborhoods.

One of the complaints people make about the push to get Americans to eat more healthfully is that it costs too much. Now, whether that is true or not is a matter of conjecture, although it doesn’t take an economics major to see that it is often cheaper to buy fat-laden burgers and fries than to purchase healthier options. There are good reasons why fast food restaurants proliferate in the poorest neighborhoods.

Well aware of this perception, many non-commercial foodservice operators have employed a simple method for trying to encourage healthful eating. They offer discounts for the purchase of healthy foods and create attractive combos of low-calorie items to play off the related perception that meal deals are cheaper than à la carte purchases.

I like the incentive approach to wellness. Subsidize my gym membership and I’m more likely to join and take advantage of a fitness facility. Give me opportunities to be educated about nutrition and wellness and I’ll have the ammunition to make healthful choices. Lower the price of healthy foods and I’ll probably buy more of them.

A health insurance firm in South Africa reportedly has taken that last approach, and two researchers have been studying the effort. The insurance company has for the last four years offered a program called HealthyFood. Under the plan, members receive a 25% rebate on healthy items they purchase from 800 supermarkets across the country.

Writing in Modern Healthcare, Roland Sturm, senior economist for the Rand Corp., and Derek Yach, senior vice president of the Vitality Institute, say that the insurer has met with some success by offering its members a reward for buying healthful food items. Sturm and Yach have analyzed data from grocery stores’ checkout scanners to assess the success of the program.

“We estimate that a 25% rebate on healthy foods raises the share of healthier foods that program participants buy by 9%, while cutting the share of less desirable foods they purchase by about 6%,” the pair wrote. “There’s other good news from the South African experiment. Surveys suggest that the price changes altered behavior, too: consumers reported that they were eating larger amounts of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods, and said that they were eating less processed meat and foods high in added sugars, fats or salt.”

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

In a bid to beef up its presence in sports arenas and a variety of other large venues, Sodexo will acquire foodservice vendor Centerplate for $675 million.

Sodexo says the deal, which is expected to be finalized by the end of this year, will more than double its global footprint.

Centerplate, which serves as the foodservice operator for a number for stadiums, convention halls and other event spaces, brought in revenues of $998 million for the year ending June 2017, according to Sodexo. Centerplate was purchased five years ago by Olympus Partners, a private-equity company...

Menu Development
eggs

Loyola University Maryland took a new approach to all-day breakfast with an egg-focused concept.

Breakfast options were top of mind for students when asked what they would like to see on the menu at the university’s revamped Boulder Garden Cafe. Instead of creating an all-day breakfast station, however, the Baltimore-based dining team went beyond traditional options and created a concept that services all mealparts with eggs.

“It can be somewhat mundane,” says Executive Chef Don Crowther on why the team strayed away from the trendy all-day breakfast. At the eatery’s Sunny...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Kansas has added a retail pass that allows students to purchase one to-go combo meal per day at cafes and markets on campus, the University Daily Kansan reports.

The pass is available on two different meal plans and is geared toward on-the-go students who don’t have the time to sit down and eat at a residence hall.

“It has increased the participation rate,” Jamie Reed, a service assistant for the school’s dining services, told the University Daily Kansan.

Over 1,800 students have used the pass since its debut at the beginning of the semester....

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Minnesota dining team has created a vegan student group in an effort to improve the school’s vegan offerings, Minnesota Daily reports.

The group was created by the school’s foodservice vendor, Aramark, and its campus sustainability coordinator, who is vegan, after receiving numerous complaints from students about the lack of vegan options on campus.

The group will this week host its first meeting, during which members will be able to share feedback and provide solutions to help enhance the school’s vegan offerings. Members will also keep a photo journal...

FSD Resources