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Does FSNEP encourage children to try new foods?

The Issue

Research has shown that children's diets tend to be high in sugar and fat and lack fruits and vegetables. Poor nutrition and lack of physical activity can put children at risk for obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Nutrition education can increase their knowledge and provide new skills to promote good nutrition and exercise. It is also important for children to be offered a variety of foods to broaden their food choices.

What Has ANR Done?

Through collaborations with classroom- and after-school programs, the UC Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program (UC-FSNEP) trains teachers to provide instruction through hands-on activities, including food preparation and tasting. Food tasting has been a major component of the curriculum, but the impacts of the taste testing had not been evaluated. The UC-FSNEP field tested and piloted a tasting evaluation tool. In the winter and summer of 2009, teachers were instructed to survey the students in class during food tasting activities. Forty-seven classroom teachers representing 585 students in pre-kindergarten through 9th grade participated. The food items taste tested were:
  • Fresh fruit (blood orange, Asian pear, apples, plums, grapes, peaches, lychee)
  • Dried fruit (apples, apricots)
  • Vegetables (broccoli, jicama, sweet potato, asparagus, beets, celery, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, peppers)
  • Nuts (almonds and chestnuts)
  • Grains (whole wheat English muffins, trail mix, cereal)
  • Beans (kidney and butter beans)

The Payoff

Food tasting does encourage children to try new foods

Utilizing the evaluation taste testing tool, teachers reported that 89 percent of the students tasted the food in class that day, 45 percent were tasting a food they had not tried before, and 65 percent were willing to try the food again either at home or school. The evaluation tool revealed that food tasting does have an impact on the children's attitude about new foods and their willingness to try them again.


Supporting Unit: FSNEP

Jeanne George, jlgeorge@ucdavis.edu, (530) 527-3101
Connie Schneider, cschneider@ucdavis.edu, (559) 456-7142