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School Lunch. Debit Vs. Cash

Behavioral Economics May Guide You to Healthy Meal Choices

Behavioral Economics May Guide You to Healthy Meal Choices

When children use cash to buy lunch at school they tend to make healthier choices

Before converting to a cashless payment system, schools should take into account how payment method can direct students’ food choices

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Just, David R. and Brian Wansink (2009). Smarter Lunchrooms: Using Behavioral Economics to Improve Meal Selection. Choices Magazine, 24(3). 

School Lunch. Debit Vs. Cash, Just, Choices Magazine, 2009, behavioral economics, Brian Wansink, Cornell University, Food and Brand Lab

To use a debit card or to use cash, that is the question... If you want to stay healthy when deciding how to pay for lunch in the cafeteria, this website will show you how a simple trick might change what you buy.

The major advantage of using a debit card is convenience. One swipe with a pocket size card can buy you anything. Yet, in school cafeterias, using cash for lunch can be more beneficial than using a debit card. Brian Wansink, PhD, and David Just PhD, Cornell University Professors and Co-Founders of the Smarter Lunchooms Movement, discovered that students who paid with cash, as opposed to a debit card, made healthier choices. Those using cash increased the percentage of money spent on healthy food by 30% compared to those using debit cards. Currently, 62% of public schools use some form of cashless payment method and by 2012, it is estimated that this number will increase up to 80%. The trend of converting to cashless payment can unknowingly direct students of United States' public schools toward unhealthy eating choices and obesity.

For more information about the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement, please visit: