Lunch time at school is a vital part of a school kids day for his health and performance. KidsHealth notes that many school lunches are very nutritious, such as grilled chicken sandwiches and salads. However, in most school cafeterias unhealthy foods may also be available. Cornell University reported in a news release on Oct. 7, 2013, "Debit cards deduct nutrition from school lunches."
Cornell behavioral economists have reported that school cafeterias that accept only electronic payments may inadvertently be promoting junkier food and adding empty calories to the diets of students. About 80 percent of schools use debit cards or accounts that parents can add money to for cafeteria lunch transactions, in order to expedite long lunch lines and enable easier accounting.
David Just and Brian Wansink, co-directors of the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs, have said, “There may be a reason for concern about the popularity of cashless systems. Debit cards have been shown to induce more frivolous purchases or greater overall spending.” Just and Wansink found that students in first through 12th grades at debit/cash cafeterias consumed about 721 calories for lunch in comparison with 752 calories at debit-only schools.
In dealing with non-healthy food items alone, such as candy, dessert, fries and cheeseburgers, students at debit-only schools consumed about 441 calories during their lunch, in comparison with 378 calories for students at debit/cash schools. Just and Wansink feel it is possible the use of cash, as opposed to debit cards, can encourage a student into making slightly healthier choices. In such instances a cash for snack policy might prompt students to think twice before making their selections.