Trisha, one of HIP’s AmeriCorps Nutrition Program Coordinators, recounts her experience in working with kids at the After-School Food Club at Olympic Hills Elementary School.
“Ewww” “yuck” “I hate spinach” “Avocado in a smoothie!” are all the phrases we heard when we told the After-School Food Club at Olympic Hills that we were going to put vegetables in the smoothies that we were making that day. It can be challenging to get kids to try new vegetables, so a great way to include vegetables is to hide them in plain sight.
Did you know that it may take about 12 tries to like a food? Think back to the last time you tried something new. Did you automatically love it on the first try? Maybe…or maybe not. Maybe you tried that food again at a different time and then experienced a little better affinity for it. Children need to be offered a new food as many as 10-15 times before they will decide if they like it.
As I was passing out the ingredients for the Chocolate Avocado smoothie, one of the students, Ben, stated that he hated avocado, but couldn’t pinpoint why he hated it. I encouraged him to try the smoothie and if he still didn’t like it at least he tried it. After everyone had tried the Chocolate Avocado, I asked Ben on his opinion. He said that it was alright but not his favorite. Several other students also agreed. The other two smoothies that we made that day were a Pineapple Spinach smoothie and a Peach-Strawberry smoothie.
While making the Pineapple Spinach smoothie, I had several students state that they disliked spinach. One student even stated she disliked spinach and pineapple. After encouraging the students to at least try the smoothie, most of the students concluded that the Pineapple Spinach smoothie was their favorite. While getting kids to eat veggies through subterfuge may not be the best way to get their daily intake of vegetables, it’s a step in the right direction. At the end of the class, the student who stated she disliked spinach and pineapple asked if she could take the leftover spinach and pineapple to recreate the smoothie at home. The next week, when asked whether she had made the smoothie, she stated that she did and made some changes by adding apples to the mixture.In the 6 weeks that we were at Olympic Hills After-School Food Club, we noticed that the students were more open to trying new foods. They enjoyed being able to help chop, mix, and assemble the recipes. The students were always excited to see what new recipe we were going to try each week and how they were going to be able to help. We hope the children will continue to try new foods and continue to help in the kitchen.