Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker Schools

The District

The School(s)

  • Laker Elementary

    Age Group: K-5
    School Size: Medium (301-900)
    School Environment: Rural
    School F/R: 54%
    School ADP: 75%

  • Laker Junior High

    Age Group: 6-8
    School Size: Small (Under 300)
    School Environment: Rural
    School F/R: 46%
    School ADP: 80%

  • Laker High School

    Age Group: 9-12
    School Size: Medium (301-900)
    School Environment: Rural
    School F/R: 45%
    School ADP: 75%

The Project

  • Project Description

    When Cinamon Marker arrived to Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker Schools as head cook, she was determined to increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables in the cafeteria. Throughout the Fall semester, Ms. Marker orchestrated monthly taste tests funded through the Project Produce grant. She and the cafeteria staff prepped fresh fruits and vegetables into small portion cups and distributed them in the classrooms. 

    The district made the decision to hold taste tests in the classroom during the second hour of the day because they found that the students were hungry between breakfast and lunch. During this window of mid-morning hunger, they really appreciated the snack and were more focused on it than if they had received it along with their entire lunch. When passing out the samples, Ms. Marker encouraged the students to smell the food, touch it and describe its appearance before finally tasting it. This helped the students become engaged by the entire sensory experience of the tastings. 

    A local bulk food store, Countryview Market, was integral to the success of the taste tests. They provided local produce to the district for the taste tests such as Bosc pears and sugar snap peas. They also served more exotic produce including ruby red grapefruits and mangos. Ms. Marker tried to serve the fruit and vegetables as fresh and simply as possible so the students could get a taste for it without any additives. 

    Throughout programming Ms. Marker encouraged the students to try produce in the spirit of gratitude. She explains, “I would say to the kids, ‘Take a thank you taste, and if you don’t like it that’s ok. But it’s a thank you to the Chef Ann Foundation.’” The students responded well to that language and eventually were smelling and tasting the food without much prompting. 

  • Successes
    • Transforming how open students were to trying new fruits and vegetables.
    • Continuing the success of the taste tests by featuring some of the students’ favorite fruits and vegetables at the cafeteria salad bar. 
  • Challenges
    • Preventing foods like apples and pears from going brown once prepped for the taste tests.
    • Providing enough staff to help with the taste tests.
    • Offering samples of all the fruits and vegetables they had wanted to feature in the limited time frame of the grant period. 

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