The Nonexistent Broccoli Pilot

kids with applesFrom FastCompany: Ever since the introduction of mandatory fruits and vegetables for schoolchildren, kids have eaten less of them than before. The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, introduced in 2010 and in effect from last year, forces schoolchildren to take a piece of fruit or a vegetable and put it on their lunch tray. What it doesn’t do is force them to eat it. A new study shows that kids toss their apples into the trash before they even take a place at a table.”

OK, now raise your hands if you’re surprised that 21st-century American children aren’t eating the healthy foods that their schools are telling them they have to eat.

Looking … looking…looooookiiiiiiinggg…nope. No hands.

Now what should surprise us is that an enormous federal program was rolled out nationwide that has nearly no demand with those it purportedly seeks to help. It should surprise us, because such abject failure can only mean that there was no piloted smaller-scale program that showed solid, replicable success.

It’s true that nothing is more powerful than an idea. It’s also true that great ideas are a dime a dozen. This means a lot of discipline is required for a great idea to become a great program. And that great program will probably end up looking much different than the original idea.

As the disciplines of program innovation continue to make encouraging inroads among non-profits by bringing marketing and program experts together more consistently, one outcome should be an increase in program piloting. That’s where Great Idea meets Reality. Reality has a tendency to grind away at the Great Idea until what’s left is a Great Program.

Of course, going into your program pilot, you’ll want to stock up on patience, discipline and flexibility.

And maybe some Tums.

Looking for more ideas on new programs for your ministry? Contact me at


Photo by Meal Makeover Moms / licensed under CC BY 2.0 / modified from original