Greg Hummel, Derry Township FSD, recognizes that introducing appealing new menu items is a must in order to meet the new meals regulations resulting from the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. He also recognizes that student tastes vary widely, and he must therefore offer a range of options to be able to meet the demands of his “customers.” Foremost, though, Greg believes in the impact and importance of nutrition education and the value of making learning fun for children.
SUPERB Sample Days are the answer to those requirements. These are taste testing events that get the whole school talking about the new dishes that are headed – or not – for the lunch menu. Greg has conducted several of these events in the past two years, and they have met with much success. The focus is on the elementary students, but SUPERB Sample Days have also been conducted in the secondary buildings.
Buffet tables are set up in the cafeteria for preparation and display of the recipe to be sampled. As the students eat their regular lunches, they learn about the foods they will soon be tasting. The visiting chef prepares the food as he teaches the students about its nutritional qualities and other interesting facts about the ingredients. His efforts are complemented by staff, dietetic interns, and parent volunteers who all contribute to making these events entertaining and informative.
When students have completed eating their lunches, the tasting begins! Parents deliver samples to the students. The interns mingle with the students and collect their impressions of the food they are tasting. Oral feedback, print surveys, and show-of-hand voting have all been employed to determine the popularity of foods the students have tried.
Fun is a common ingredient in all of these events. It begins with the aromas emanating from the cafeteria as the students arrive and then eat, learn, and wait for the opportunity to taste the food of the day. Students brighten immediately when they can smell that the chef is preparing something new for them to try. The parent volunteers also know how to liven up the cafeteria. Their presence alone can relax any apprehensive students, and they even sing to the students to contribute to the entertaining atmosphere.
Students are learning that trying new foods is fun. They also express their wishes about foods they enjoy and want on the school menu. Greg learns about which of these foods he can add to the school menu with the expectation that students will choose them as part of their reimbursable meals. Most recently, students asked to have homemade spinach risotto added to the school lunch menu after tasting it during a SUPERB Sample Day titled “Grains and Greens.” Other taste tested items that have been or will be added to the menu include stir fry, black beans, salsa beans, falafel, and a citrus fruit variety.
Please visit the web site for more information, recipes – and to see photos of all the fun!
Contact Person: Gregory Hummel
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Contact Person’s Phone Number: 717-531-2233, 717-533-6613 (FAX)
- To cultivate student interest in tasting new foods
- To gain student acceptance of new food options that meet the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act requirements
- It's important to find ways to make taste testing fun. Students associate the fun they had during these events with the food they tasted. This can motivate them to choose those items when they are on the school lunch menu. It also encourages them to try new foods in other settings.
- You don't have to do this alone. The visiting chef receives abundant support and assistance at the Derry Township SD's SUPERB Sample Days thanks to student interns, administrators, and parent volunteers, along with the food service staff.
Evidence of Success
- Students have become eager to try new foods during SUPERB Sample Day events.
- When students like foods they’ve sampled, they request for those foods to be added to the school menu.
- When students like foods they’ve sampled at school, they ask their parents to provide those same foods at home.
- Parents report that their children ask them to provide at home the same foods that were sampled at school. This type of response prompted the provision of recipes on the Food Service web site.