$1 Snack Attack: What will kids choose to eat?

What will kids buy if they only have $1 to spend on a snack?

That was the Bike for Life challenge last week.

The kids could choose from the following as long as they stayed under $1:
– apple or banana – 22-60 cents
– cheese stick – 33 cents
– 1 oz peanuts – 22 cents
– 1 candy bar – 93 cents
– Single serving bag of chips 33 cents

Before they made their choices, we talked about each item and  its nutritional value. We also looked at portion size and learned how to read a nutrition label.

Then, we biked to Copps grocery store on Aberg and took a tour of the departments. The store manager gave us a tour and the kids made their choices.

Of the six boys, 1 chose peanuts, two chose an apple and cheese stick, 1 chose the chips, and two chose the candy bar. Of the 7 girls, all bought an apple along with either the nuts or a cheese stick.

For whatever reason, it appears the boys felt freer to buy junk food. The two boys were giddy that I’d let them buy candy. If given money and the choice, some kids will always buy candy.

When I asked John why he chose the chips, he said “I just felt like a chip.”  Perhaps he associated chips with a reward, or he craved the salt. Regardless, nutrition had nothing to do with his choice.

The girls all chose a healthy snack: either an apple and nuts, or an apple and cheese stick.  One person commented that she didn’t get the candy because she could buy two things for her money instead of one candy bar. Just like John, nutrition had nothing to do with her choice. It’s also possible that the girls wanted to please me or were driven by peer pressure. Since none of the girls said they wanted a candy bar, perhaps it was too risky for a lone candy bar lover to break from the pack. I wonder what would have happened if just one boy would have wanted the candy. Would he have risked speaking up?

Overall, I think it was a good experiment. Most of the kids chose healthy snacks despite less healthy options. Next time, I’ll ask more questions about why they chose what they did.  Healthy eating takes a lifetime to learn and this was a small learning step. Two things are  certain, 1) kids have lots of reason for choosing what they eat and 2) the will never forget (I hope) the day that their teacher gave them $1 to spend anyway they wanted.

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