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CHM Students Help Select New Cafeteria Offerings

Thursday, December 22, 2016 -

A small group of Chestnut Hill Middle students had excitedly gathered in the school’s cafeteria to putchmtastetesting1 their taste buds to the test. Liverpool Central School District Food Service Director Annette Marchbanks quickly handed out samples of blueberry & pear twist and told the students to give it a try.

A minute later Marchbanks asked, “What does everyone think?”

The response was an overwhelming “yum!”

Approximately 20 CHM students recently volunteered to taste test potential menu items for LCSD cafeterias. In addition to the blueberry & pear crisp, the students were asked to try BBQ baked beans, sriracha pinto beans, black bean & salsa soup, hummus, and a chicken, rice & bean burrito. Students then rated each item and decided if it should be offered on a future school lunch menu.

The taste test was conducted in conjunction with Cornell University’s Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs (BEN), which applies principles from behavioral economics to encourage children to make healthier food choices.

Marchbanks first partnered with the BEN Center when she worked for the Syracuse City School District. Her goal was to help improve nutrition education for students as well as try the center’s Smarter Lunchroom Initiative. Marchbanks knew she wanted to partner with Cornell again when she joined the LCSD Food Service Department.

According to the BEN Center, the key to a Smarter Lunchroom is using easy no-cost and low-cost changes to encourage students to select, eat, and enjoy healthier foods in school. One such change is to involve students in the decision making process, which in turn increases participation in the school lunch program. Other changes would include changing the placement of healthier food items, using creative & age-targeted names for those items, and employing signs & verbal prompts to encourage students to select healthier items.

Marchbanks said the goal is to eventually introduce the Smarter Lunchroom Initiative in all LCSD cafeterias.

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