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How Reducing Noise Impacts Kids’ Food Consumption

Ever wonder how noise in the school cafeteria affects your child’s eating habits? It’s no secret that school cafeterias are historically loud and, for some students, unpleasant places to try to eat a meal – or better yet, enjoy it! Across the country, more attention is being paid to creating a calm and positive cafeteria environment that promotes healthy eating and social interactions among students. Over the last two years, the Whatcom Farm to School Support Team has been studying the impacts of cafeteria noise levels on students’ food consumption, and here is what we’ve found:

We studied three Bellingham elementary schools that were awarded grants from the Whatcom Community Foundation to enhance the cafeteria environment. Each school installed different sound How-Reducing-Noise-Impacts-Kids-Food-Consumptionabsorption materials in the cafeteria and all were effective at reducing noise levels. Two schools also changed their schedule to have recess before lunch, and one added a salad bar. We systematically took photos of student’s plates before and after they ate lunch and were able to demonstrate that reducing cafeteria noise, switching to recess before lunch, and installing salad bars all had a significant positive impact students’ consumption of fruits and vegetables, and the amount they ate overall.
(Sound absorption panels with student art at Columbia Elem.)

For more details, see the summary report, The Cafeteria Environment: Noise Reduction and Other Factors that Impact Food Consumption. A full report with all the data analysis is available by request.

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