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CHOMPS is a project designed to see if children and adolescents will buy healthier food items more often if they are given “kids-only” coupons to discount the price of healthier foods at local convenience stores. The coupons will be distributed in stores near schools and community centers in Somerville.
We have chosen to work with Somerville, MA because it is a racially diverse community with schools that are walkable. We have also successfully partnered with Somerville, MA in the past and enjoy giving back to the community that is so close to our Medford Campus.
For now, the coupons can only be used at the stores that have agreed to participate. The coupons will be distributed directly in these stores.
Pre-teens alone spend tens of billions of dollars of their own money each year, much of it on snack food. One study found that almost half of students visiting a corner store to purchase snacks did so every school day. Given that kids are already purchasing snack foods in the community, we are looking to see if we can encourage them to make healthier choices.
The main purpose of the project is to promote healthier food choices when kids purchase their own snacks, and the majority of the discounts are going directly to that purpose. Part of the study design is to also see if kids are more likely to use coupons for healthier or less healthy items, which requires us to occasionally discount other snack items that children are already purchasing frequently. Any such discounts will be very short-lived, and will not be on items that the children are not already regularly purchasing. We are not trying to promote unhealthy food choices!
We are not interviewing any children in the stores, nor are we recording any information about your child. We are collecting aggregate information about the total sales, number of children who visit the stores, etc., but we will not know who visited the stores or made the purchases. In a separate part of the study, we are planning to chat with some children participating in after-school programs in Somerville to ask them about if and where they buy snacks on their own. If your child is invited to participate, you will receive a letter requesting your written permission to interview your child. We will never talk with your children without first receiving your permission.