Often times simply changing menu options is not enough to increase participation. Promoting new options is a key step in getting students to choose them. Taste tests for students are a fun and interactive way to gauge how receptive students are to a new recipe before offering it on the menu plus it allows you to get useful feedback that can be used to implement changes in the future. Taste testing exposes children to new and different foods. Did you know that a child might have to try a food up to ten or more times before accepting it?
The Ohio Smarter Lunchrooms Movement Taste Testing Getting Started Guide offers tips to increase student participation in taste tests so that you can get the most accurate assessment of student preferences possible.
- Promote the event with signage to get students excited for taste testing day! Be sure to include appealing features of the item and creative adjectives to describe it.
- Set up the taste testing station in a place that will prompt students as they pass –don’t forget to use verbal prompts to encourage students to taste.
- Ensure that the sample item is visually appealing to students. Fresh, colorful, bite size portions are best.
- Document feedback from surveys, comment cards, student votes, or verbal responses. Click here to download a free taste testing form from USDA.
VT Feed’s Guide to Taste Testing Local Food in Schools suggests developing a food committee of parents and teachers who support the program while other schools have started student clubs that help generate new food ideas that can be used for preliminary testing or to help prepare the food for taste testing day.
Additional taste test resources such as fliers, comment cards, stickers, and posters are available on the Ohio Smarter Lunchroom page. For additional resources on taste testing, visit JSI’s Resource Center.
Left image credit: this image was found on the School Meals that Rock Pinterest page.