Research shows point-of-purchase labels and reward cards improve the consumption of healthy foods in university dining halls

AUGUST 30, 2018

A recently published research paper by a team of professors, graduate students, and the Nutrition Manager at Western University shows that point-of-purchase labels and reward cards improve the consumption of healthy foods in university dining halls. Healthy food items available in Western’s dining halls labelled ‘FRESH Approved’ proved to be less expensive, available more often, and sold more often than other menu items.

The analysis showed that fruit sales increased, offsetting the cost of the free fruit or milk that students received for redeeming fully-stamped cards. Overall the reward program incentivized students to eat healthier.

“Point-of-purchase labelling and reducing the cost of healthy foods are promising practices to enhance campus food environments” says Dr. Jamie Seabrook, PhD, Acting Chair and Associate Professor in the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences at Brescia University College, the lead researcher of this study.

FRESH (Food Resources and Education for Student Health) is a multi-strategy nutrition education program that improves knowledge, builds skills, and influences the campus food environment at Western University. It is a joint initiative between Hospitality Services at Western and the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences at Brescia University College.

This research focused on the sale of menu items with ‘FRESH Approved’ point-of-purchase labels in the residence dining halls at Western. ‘FRESH Approved’ labels flag healthier menu options. The study analyzed the sales data of FRESH Approved menu items versus non-FRESH Approved items, pre- and post-implementation of the FRESH program (2011-2015). It also assessed the impact of the FRESH Reward Card (FRC) program on fruit sales, pre- and post- implementation.

Frank Miller, Director of Hospitality Services, said “We’ve had a longstanding relationship with our colleagues at Brescia University College and it’s great to have these Foods and Nutrition students to help us gauge our Nutrition program outcomes.” Miller added, “Offering healthier selections on our menu is a high priority for us and it’s reassuring to know that we can offer affordable wholesome selections that students will actually select.”

Anne Zok, Nutrition Manager at Western said, “Nudging students toward healthier options requires a multi-strategy approach. It is encouraging to see that students are selecting these healthier options often and that our FRESH Reward Program incentivizes students to consume more fruit and milk.”

The full paper is published on the Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research website:


Stephen Ledgley, Senior Media Relations Officer, Western University, 519-661-2111 x85283,

Caitlin Core, Marketing & External Relations Officer, Brescia University College, 519 432-8353 x28280,

Western University delivers an academic experience second to none. Since 1878, The Western Experience has combined academic excellence with life-long opportunities for intellectual, social and cultural growth in order to better serve our communities. Our research excellence expands knowledge and drives discovery with real-world application. Western attracts individuals with a broad worldview, seeking to study, influence and lead in the international community.

Brescia University College, Canada’s women’s university college, is affiliated with Western University. The 1,500 women registered as either full- or part-time students at Brescia study a wide variety of subjects in the Schools of Behavioural & Social Sciences, Food & Nutritional Sciences, Humanities and Leadership & Social Change in an empowering, compassionate, student-centred and invigorating environment. Degrees are granted by Western. The Catholic University College welcomes students from all backgrounds and values diversity.