When students feel involved in the process for choosing what to serve in their school cafeteria, they’re more likely to want to participate! A great way to get students involved and to increase awareness about a certain food item is to do a taste test. This activity works especially well for farm-to-school foods – especially veggies – and new or exotic foods to the program. Set out the taste test item you wish to introduce to your child nutrition program in a way that works best for you – at a table at the beginning or end of the serving line, on a tray which you deliver to the students at their seats, in the classroom, etc.
Really play up the taste test! When students see that their friends have tried the food, they’ll be more open-minded to trying it as well. Plus, kids love free stuff! You can even reward them with an “I tried it!” sticker to remind them of the fun activity they got to complete that day. Have the students vote on the food (“I would try it again”, “It’s not for me” – think positive phrasing!) with stickers or tally marks on a chart, or in a clear ballot box (so other students can see how many others have participated!). This way, you’re getting your students exposed to vegetables, and also using your collected data (that the students collected for you!) to determine whether that particular veggie would be well-received in your program.