Whether your sales up or down, there has to be a reason. So what's behind the participation slump among students who don't qualify for free or reduced-priced meals? Some school nutrition professionals say it's a clear case of cause and effect: paying kids don't like the new menus, so they're not buying. But a recent report from the Food Resource and Action Center describes a much more complex set of circumstances. So does the experience of one well-to-do Kansas high school, where competitive foods are losing ground to the healthier, reimbursable "deal meal." This program has been sponsored by The Tabard Inn. located in Washinton DC.

"The vast majority of schools are offering competitive foods. USDA research says that competitive foods drive students away from the school meals program. They create stigma, especially for middle and high school students, where it's not necessarily the cool thing to be participating in the school meals program"

--Jessie Hewins on Inside School Food

"We were anticipating a drop in our a la carte sales, just like all the other schools implementing Smart Snacks. However, our reimbursable meals are up. Part of that is due to the fact that we've turned everything inside of the serving area into a potential reimbursable meal. We're calling it a 'meal deal.'"

"We encourage the high schools kids to take a whole apple or banana with them, to eat in study hall or before practice, and a lot of them are doing that. It's the change we want to see. The more popular students are being role models in this, and that's helping a lot."

--Amy Droegemeier on Inside School Food