Food Tastings Overview: Ideas From Our GameOn grantee schools

May 1, 2009 at 9:13 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Mason is excited to try her mango and tomato

Mason is excited to try her mango and tomato

Among those of us who have done many tastings at schools, we notice anecdotally that a smiling face encouraging kids to try something at a fun event really helps!  Especially if that smiling face is a peer!                Food tastings can be a part of any Game On! nutrition challenge (dairy, fruit & veggie, or whole grain), or even infused into a physical activity challenge. For example, if you are organizing a before-school physical activity event, why not offer a whole grain breakfast tasting?  

 Generally, there are a few things to remember when holding tastings. Make sure that the food you are tasting is not a high-allergen, and is something that is attainable and affordable for the population who is sampling it.    The Game On!framework has listings of specific foods to sample.   For specifics on setting up a tasting, click here:  tastetestideas  Many times these foods can be donated by local grocers, farmers, bakeries, or the school district food service.  The PTA or PTO is another likely source of funding and volunteers to organize food tastings, and in some cases, high school or college students can coordinate tastings as part of a service or school credit requirement.  In one community in Ohio, the Fayetteville-Perry High school, the FCCLA student body class students have been leaders in GameOn food samplings with youth, their peers and their community.  Some schools have kept the tastings very simple; one item, during lunch, and place it in the lunch line with the other foods. 

Always remember to include parents  – let them know it is taking place, where and how best to purchase the items.  Some have sent, along with a notice about the tasting, recipes for parents about how to prepare the item sampled, where to get it, or encourage planting seeds to grow it!   A food tasting at lunch time can be supplemented with fact sheets to the classroom teachers that morning which can include historical or geographical information on where it is grown, what nutrients it provides, etc – to help teachers integrate it into their curriculum.  For an example, click here: plums   To add excitemUse tasting as math or civics lesson!ent to a tasting, some schools have incorporated poster contests, media messaging lessons, or voting as a math or civic studies lesson. 


Classroom Poster contest







 Another idea for a tasting is to offer the same food prepared in three different ways!  Look at what one school, Dominion Middle School in Columbus, Ohio offered for cauliflower options – raw, cooked, and “smashed” with savoring spices:  Mmmm!

Try different ways to eat cauliflower!

Try sampling different ways to eat cauliflower!

Regardless of how, what, where, when the tasting occurs, please always include the parents – let them know about it, so they can reinforce it.   Parents have been enthusiastic supporters; some offer to contribute, bake or help chop.   When it’s all over, ask them for feedback.   Don’t forget to evaluate your efforts!  Some of the best ideas of what to sample have come from parents.  Remember, especially with younger students, the parents are the ones that are purchasing and bringing food into the home – we need to include them if we want a sustained difference!   To see some results from a simple parent survey, click here:



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