Students at Pinewood Intermediate School put their palates to the test as they sampled different preparations of peas on Feb. 12 during the latest “Try Day Friday.”
Mohonasen Food Service Director Kim Gagnon explained that the event stemmed from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s mandate that all students take a vegetable or fruit with their daily school lunches.
“This program is something we started last year to encourage students to try new vegetables,” Gagnon said. “What we often saw was kids taking fruits or vegetables and throwing them away uneaten—particularly the vegetables.”
In order to combat waste and help students make healthy choices, Gagnon and her team devised an event that would present these meal options to the students creatively. For each “Try Day Friday,” the food service team prepares a vegetable in three different ways and lets students vote on their favorite. The event is held in the Pinewood cafeteria, and students in all grade levels across the school are welcomed to participate. The winning vegetable dish will appear on a future menu in the cafeteria.
“We thought that if we let the kids pick their favorites, they’ll be more likely to actually try the vegetables,” Gagnon said.
In addition to their inclusion on future lunch menus, the winning recipes are sent to Pinewood teacher Liesha Sherman, who has one of her students prepare a recipe to be broadcast on school television in classrooms throughout Pinewood so their peers can learn about the dish.
“It has been a fun experience for the students, and they seem to really enjoy being a part of the planning process for our menus,” Gagnon said.
So far, “Try Day Friday” has been a clear success; around 300 students cast their votes in the latest event to bring the crowd favorite, pea guacamole, to an upcoming lunch menu.