On this particular Monday morning, Moose and Goose (private investigators and solvers of tricky problems) were sitting in their office, each sipping a cup of red bush tea, when the phone rang.

Moose answered it, “Hello”.
“Is that Moose and Goose?”
“Yes”, said Moose.
“Private Investigators?”
“Yes”, said Moose.
“And Solvers of Difficult Problems?”
“Yes”, said Moose.
“Great. I am Mrs. Reeves, Head of the town middle school. We are having a problem with our pupils and their diet. You were recommended to us by Mayor Wilson, who said he was certain you could come up with ideas that no-one else would ever think of. Are you able to come round for a chat at noon?”
“Yes”, said Moose.
“Great. See you then. Bye”

“We have time for several more cups of tea”, said Moose.

Lots of tea, and a thorough reading of the morning paper later, Moose and Goose rode their bikes round to the town school, and were shown in to see the Head.

“Before we start, are you happy with the same fees as you arranged with the Mayor?” Moose and Goose nodded, and said that was fine.

“The problem is this”, said Mrs. Reeves, the Head. “We provide healthy food options, such as salad, vegetables, fruit, and so on, but the children ignore most of that and stick with the standard, less healthy options such as chips and pizza.

The dinner ladies keep trying to promote the healthy food, reminding the pupils as they choose. We’ve had advertising campaigns. We’ve had special lessons. Oh, we’ve tried pretty much everything, and they still go for pizza and chips and beans.

Do you think you can help? Can you suggest ways in which we can get the pupils to eat more healthy food?”

Moose and Goose looked at each other and nodded. This sounded like a nice little problem to nibble away at.

Having agreed with Mrs. Reeves to take on this project, Moose and Goose asked if it was ok to visit the lunch session. “Of course”, replied Mrs. Reeves, who took them there herself.

Sure enough, when they went and had a look, Moose and Goose could clearly see that the pupils almost always ignored the healthy options, hardly even looking at them.

They asked for directions to the staff room, and found a quiet corner. Goose whipped out his notebook. It was time for a brainstorm. Time to write down every idea they could think of, no matter how crazy. The more, the better. The more daft, the better. Who knew what good ideas might come out of a silly idea?

  • flying food
  • food on wheels
  • interesting shapes, e.g. plane-shaped omlette
  • robot arm to shove food into pupils mouths
  • nice smell, looks good
  • cuckoo clock with food on the cuckoo
  • mix up/hide the sweet course with the veg
  • use a mortar to fire food at the pupils
  • make all the healthy food look like pizza and chips
  • … (and lots lots more)

Well, that seemed like a good start. And so they began the next stage of their brainstorming session, looking over the list of ideas, and grouping them together into themes.

  • Threats: eat this , or else…
  • Moving food: flying cars, robot arms, etc
  • Nice food: look/smell
  • Bribery: mix sweet course in, pay them money
  • Forced eating: mortar, robot arm, etc
  • Interesting shapes/colour: plane-shaped, look like pizza
  • Ways of choosing: blindfold, etc

Then Moose and Goose chose a small number of themes to dig into a bit deeper.

  • interesting
  • ways of choosing
  • moving

After looking at these three themes, Moose came up with a new idea: how about making it difficult for the children to get exactly the food they want?

Goose extended the idea. “Make them use bows and arrows, to shoot for their food. Call it ‘Food Shoot Hunt’”. This sounded good.

Moose continued with the idea. Maybe they could have food dangling by string from the ceiling. Perhaps from a moving platform. This idea was picking up speed.

With an arrow on a string, suggested Goose, the arrow could be easily retrieved for the next pupil.

Hm. Yes. Moose and Goose both liked this Food Shoot Hunt idea. They prepared the idea in a bit more detail, and contacted the Head to arrange for a trial day to test it out.

On the trial day, Moose and Goose arrived early. They needed to explain the idea to the dinner ladies and it was going to require a lot of extra work compared to a normal lunch, so Moose and Goose would need to help with the preparation.

The pupils lining up for the lunch saw some posters on the wall describing the new arrangement. The pupils at the front read the posters out loud so those at the back could hear what was about to happen.

“It’s the Food Shoot Hunt. You have to shoot for your food. If you hit it, you eat it.”

The first pupils into the lunch hall, saw food swinging about from the ceiling, above the dinner ladies’ heads.

The very first pupil was handed a bow and arrow, and the very first thing she did was shoot Moose in the foot. Ouch. The arrow was reeled back in, and she tried again, aiming at a pizza. She missed that, but got an omelette plane. As the omelette fell, it also knocked down some broccoli trees and cauliflower clouds.

The second pupil aimed better, and she got a pizza, but also knocked down some carrots and a tub of peas.

Moose and Goose handed out a couple more bows and arrows, and the queue started to move along quite quickly. The pupils were very excited, and keen to test their archery skills.

Soon, everyone was eating, much of the food was healthy, and no-one was complaining. There was some food still left dangling from the ceiling, though.

Moose talked loudly with Goose.
“Did anyone get the pound coin hidden prize?”
“Why, no.”
“Oh that is a shame, so it’s going to go unclaimed.”

Several pupils immediately lined up again, and there was lots more shooting of arrows and food being knocked down. Soon, someone got the pound coin, but the line stayed in place, and all the food was rapidly shot and eaten.

The Head arrived late to see all the food gone. Very happy, she asked Moose and Goose how they had achieved this miracle.

Moose and Goose didn’t say, but suggested the pupils might like to write about it in their next lesson.