Last year, I wrote about a program our school was doing to encourage kids to try veggies. The district’s school nurses developed a program where the first Tuesday of each month, a new veggie (or fruit, in some cases) is made in a recipe that features that food. We had black bean and corn salsa, sweet potato fries, and more.
Needless to say, the program was a hit, and it was fun to see the kids who didn’t want to try a veggie finally give in to peer pressure (the good kind?) and take a tiny bite only to discover that it was something yummy. In fact, we had parents requesting some of the recipes because their kids loved them so much.
The bad news is that the program cost more than the nurses and their sponsors had anticipated. My guess is that they didn’t budget for some of the little things like plastic gloves for the volunteers and the little cups to hold the food. Regardless, they’ve changed things up this year to save costs.
They’re serving veggies plain.
From the moment I heard about the change, I cringed. Even I don’t tend to like many veggies completely by themselves. I like them mixed together with other flavors. Tomatoes? Sure, they’re great alone. Sugar snap peas? Ditto. Broccoli? Beets? Lima beans? Not so much.
And it really is this… bad. Or at least I think so. I volunteered this week to help serve the veggies to the kids, and beets is not an easy sell. Personally, I don’t like beets anyway, so when a kid asks me what they taste like or tells me they’ve tried them before and don’t like them, I don’t have a good answer.
I’ve been told that beets are great if they’re pickled and made into a salad. Or if you slice them really thin and sautee them with butter, salt, and pepper. Unfortunately, these were chunks of beets from a can that were simply rinsed and served. We had maybe 30 percent of kids even willing to try them, and few of them took more than a couple bites, if that.
The goal is admirable. I love the idea of having kids try new healthy foods, but this should be something they look forward to because they discover something delicious and special. Instead, it’s turning into a situation where the kids start to avoid the volunteers without even waiting to find out what is being served because they had bad experiences in previous months. Do you want to eat a single piece of raw broccoli? Or maybe plain lima beans are more up your alley? No? I didn’t think so.
Unfortunately, cost cutting has changed the program. Though it still aims to get kids to try new vegetables, once they try them, few are willing to eat them again. It is reminiscent of the days when I was a kid and my mom made me eat foods I detested. I became less and less willing to try new foods because it seemed like they were inevitably icky. It’s only in the last few years that I’ve been able to try pork again because my mom ruined it for me, and that’s what we’re doing to our kids now.
Healthy eating? I’m all for it. But… let’s skip the lima beans please.