Better Bites Report Card: Kids Prefer Fruit to Chicken Nuggets

Chicken nuggets took a licking this summer at city pools – not from hungry swimmers but by… fruit.

Patrons at Lexington Parks and Recreation pools picked fruit over chicken nuggets by a ratio of 3-to-1 at public pool concession stands.

The 75% increase in fruit sales is attributed to the coordinated efforts of Lexington Parks and Recreation and the Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition, the founder of the Better Bites program.

Together, they helped improve nutrition by offering a healthier line of concession stand food at public pools such as chicken sandwiches, veggie burgers, cheese quesadillas, veggie dippers and string cheese.

“Kids and adults are making healthier food choices, while staying physically active at our pools,” Mayor Jim Gray said. “Lexington is always looking for ways to improve the health of its children.”

From 2013 to 2014, Better Bites concession stand sales increased by 21%, accounting for nearly 40% of total concession sales. The biggest seller was Better Bites’ frozen yogurt that generated nearly $12,500 or 17% of total sales. Popsicles, fruit, water and chocolate banana dippers were additional top sellers.

Since 2011, Better Bites has experienced a 267% increase in sales, said Anita Courtney, chairperson of the Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition.

“You have to ‘stay the course’ on healthy changes,” she said. “You don’t change a community’s habits overnight. Better Bites sales have increased steadily each year. Soon we hope healthy options will be the new normal.”

The success at public pools led Better Bites to expand to additional venues including a mobile bike, Lexington Legends ballpark, all 17 Kentucky State Parks, schools, camps, restaurants, churches, work sites and government buildings.

Said Better Bites Coordinator Amanda Hege: “Our goal is for Lexington to be the first city to ensure healthy choices everywhere.”