Three alumni from Xavier and Brophy recently joined forces to invent a game that helps young children overcome their picky eating habits.
Julia Teeter, a Xavier and UCLA alumna, Jack Rauch, a graduate of Brophy and USC, and Dylan Kertson, an alumnus from Brophy and Santa Clara University, developed Dinner Pal to enable families to enjoy dinner and focus on family time without food-related fights.
“When I was a kid, I was a pretty picky eater, and dinner was always a challenge,” Rauch said. “Now, as an adult, I’ve been working to improve my eating habits, and through my research, I realized I could create a game to help families with young kids.”
“I have siblings with young children,” Teeter said, “and I’ve been to family dinners where I’ve witnessed the headache of getting them to eat their food.”
Teeter, who has a background in psychology, said Dinner Pal is based on positive feedback.
“The process rewards good eating,” Teeter said. “We’re less focused on what kids eat as opposed to encouraging them to finish eating what’s on their plate. And children will want to finish their plate so they can play the game.”
“We don’t want to focus only on veggies,” Rauch said, “because research shows that when parents fixate on eating fruits and vegetables, their kids see that they’re pushing them, and they’ll push back by not eating them. The goal is to eat everything on their plate.”
Parents purchase Dinner Pal every month and receive a new board with game pieces like decorative stickers. Every night that a child eats dinner without an argument, the child is allowed to move a piece on the board and draw a card. The card may contain a fun food fact, a family activity, a recipe, or announce that it’s prize night. All the prizes are prepackaged and range from small toys to crossword puzzles to figurines. In a month, children are eligible to win about five prizes in total.
The program is geared toward kids from the age of three to nine.
“The cards are all narrated by these unique food characters we’ve created,” Teeter said. “We have a group of year-round characters, like Carter Carrot, and then each month, we feature seasonal characters like Carly Cucumber for the summer.”
“The rotating characters are based on what the kids see on their plate at a given time of the year,” Rauch said.
In the future, the group hopes to offer three-month and annual subscriptions.
Readers who enter promo code ARCADIA will get their first month free.