Oklahoma City Public Schools
Learnings from the Field
Age Group: K-5
School Size: Medium (301-900)
School Environment: Urban
School F/R: 65%
School ADP: 91%
Good Planning Keeps Kids Engaged in Sampling New Fruit and Vegetables
At Ridgeview Elementary, the school kitchen staff, a district chef, and two Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN) worked together to provide a monthly fruit or vegetable sampling to all students. The same item was then served by school kitchen staff as part of lunch later that month.
Dividing the work made the monthly events manageable for staff and engaging for the students, plus it ensured that each child had the opportunity to try the new item. The students were met at the beginning of the lunch line by the RDNs who talked about the nutritional benefits of the fruit or vegetable, and described how and where it grows. They also had raw and whole forms of the fruit or vegetable for the kids to look at and touch.
When the fruit or vegetable was first introduced, the chef and RDNs handed out samples once students had their trays or lunch boxes and were seated. Later that month, kitchen staff served the featured fruit or vegetable while the chef and RDN talked more with the students.
“We increased [our students’] awareness of a variety of fruits and vegetables,” explains Deborah S. Taylor, associate director of child nutrition services for Oklahoma City Public Schools. “Many of them hadn’t tried a lot of the fruits and vegetables and most of them did not have an understanding of how their food grows. Each time we came back they would ask about the previous samples while getting excited to try what we brought for them that day.”
- Students were excited to learn about where their food came from,
- Students had the opportunity to try new foods, and to try things that they don’t have access to at home.
- Staff support at Ridgeview wavered at times and it was difficult to get upper leadership excited about the opportunities being provided to students.
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