LAKEWOOD - Over the past two years, First Lady Michelle Obama has been pushing to make school lunches healthier. But, the result has been fewer students buying lunch nationwide. In Jefferson County, district leaders came up with an idea to change the trend.
"With all the new regulations and the changes that we've made, our lunch participation has gone down," Lori Burris, Jeffco Schools lunch facilitator, said. "So, this was to be an incentive to try school lunch and maybe bring them back."
Burris created the "Hungry to Win" contest. It is a raffle where students are entered to win prizes just for ordering a school lunch at any school in the district. She says lunch sales were down six percent in the fall of 2013.
"We think it's because they don't necessarily like some of the new changes that we've had to make," Burris said. "The food is much healthier. We are lower in salt. We are lower in fat. We have more grain. We have more fresh fruit and vegetables, but it takes a little while for kids to get used to that."
Students qualified to win smaller prizes like jump ropes, kites, movie tickets, and iTunes gift cards. But, they were also eligible to win grand prizes of bicycles and iPods.
Anna Ketzer, a first grader from Devinny Elementary School in Lakewood, heard her name drawn by Superintendent Dan McMinimee as one of the three winners of a brand new bike.
"I was very excited to hear that," Anna said.
She says there is one main reason she likes to buy school lunches.
"I like them because I don't have to make my lunch," Anna said.
Kay Burnett is the kitchen manager at Devinny. She says this contest is a good way to draw more students into the lunch line.
"Come in and check it out and see what we serve," Burnett said. "I think a lot of kids just think, eew, school lunch, you know. But, there's a lot of good stuff here."
Burris says the "Hungry to Win" contest appears to be working. So far, lunch sales have increased by four percent compared to last year.
"They're used to something a little different," Burris said. "So, we wanted to encourage them to come back and try it and show them that it really tastes good. It's just a bit different."
The district will hold another "Hungry to Win" contest in the spring.
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