On Thursday, October 22, I celebrated Food Day with two different groups of kids. For this post, I’m focusing on Garfield Elementary School’s cafeteria taste test. When I served in Marshall, Arkansas last year, my co-service member and held a cafeteria taste test with sweet potato fries. We had great successes in doing so. I started serving in Davenport, Iowa this year and knew I wanted to do another taste test using cauliflower. After talking to the food service director to see what foods they were interested in testing on the ground, I researched recipes and found one for a spicy roasted cauliflower side dish. There was one scary moment the day before the taste test when I learned the cafeteria I was planning to roast the cauliflower in did not have ovens that heated up to a high enough degree. Thankfully, my awesome dietetics intern assistant and I were able to work in the district’s central bakery and no more snags were had. Prior to that day, I sent a fun announcement for the principal to share with the school on Thursday morning. Curiosity rose throughout the morning and culminated when the students finally understood what was happening upon seeing my table at the end of the lunch line. To count the votes, we had the students (and adults) vote with their cups. We provided three bins labeled with thumbs: green bin with a thumbs up, yellow bin with a sideways thumb, and red bin with a thumbs down. Out of 305 testers, there were 230 thumbs up, 37 sideways thumbs, and 38 thumbs down. 230 thumbs up! I was told on Tuesday that the students were still talking about the taste test the next day and many students asked for seconds! If that’s not success, I don’t know what is.
This event was fun to plan and in the future, I hope to try the same recipe out (with a little less cayenne pepper) with my other two service schools. I would really like to see it on the school lunch menu and after informally surveying groups of students about their thoughts, I think it would do very well.