Super broccoli to the line! Giving vegetables creative names can capture students’ attention, set positive taste expectations, and increase consumption. Cornell University researchers found that X-ray Carrots were more popular than carrots and school nutrition teams in southwest Ohio found their students preferred Super Broccoli to broccoli.
Renaming vegetables is also an opportunity to engage students in food selection and menu creation. Two school districts tapped into students’ creativity to rename the dark green vegetable, broccoli. Elementary students at Marshall, Bogan, and Kramer schools in the Talawanda School District in Oxford, Ohio participated in a coloring contest to rename broccoli. The Health and Wellness Coordinator and cafeteria staff held a “Hello My name is….” Project in which students renamed the broccoli and colored the picture.
|Figure 1. Sparklie broccoli at Timberlane Learning Center in Dayton, Ohio.|
Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students at Timberlane Learning Center of Northridge Local Schools in Dayton, OH chose to create a mixed medium art project to rename their broccoli and legumes. Classroom teacher, Donna Bronner, shared pictures of the food items and facilitated a discussion of the food properties. Students used a variety of dried beans (legumes), cotton balls, glitter, colored pom-poms, markers and crayons to create the art project and rename both the broccoli and legumes (see Figure 1). On November 5, Election Day, students voted on their favorite names.
And the winners were – Super Broccoli, Sparklie Broccoli, Tiny Trees, and Rocklie Broccoli. Super Broccoli selection increased by 116 percent.
This student engagement process is simple and can be recreated in your school:
1. Select the item: Work with food service staff to identify the targeted vegetable item.
|Figure 2. Hello, my name is ….entries posted on the wall at Marshall Elementary in Oxford, Ohio.|
2. Get support: Reach out to classroom teachers and school wellness committee members for support. Pick a week for the renaming event. Work with classroom teachers to identify the best way to engage students or find opportunities to integrate the project with classroom learning.
3. Engage students: Ask the classroom teacher to introduce students to the renaming project. As a group talk about the properties of the food, focusing on positive benefits and descriptive qualities.
4. Vote on the favorite: Allow students to vote on their favorite three to five entries and then in a second round of voting, pick one winner. Voting can take place in the classroom or during the lunch period. Another option is to have school wellness committee members select the winning name.
5. Post the winners: Unveil the new name with a bang! Post the winning entry by the food item in the lunch line, include the name in morning announcements, list the new name in the menu, and verbally prompt students using the new name.
Celebrate all the creative names and student engagement. Post the art projects outside the classrooms, in the cafeteria, or another central location (See Figure 2).
6. Keep going: After the vegetable is renamed, keep the excitement up. Continue to make announcements, post signs, and prompt student selection using the new name.
We thank the creative and hard-working school nutrition teams at Northridge Local Schools and Talawanda Schools for sharing their project.
Northridge Local Schools: Mrs. Donna Bronner (teacher), Mrs. Heather Koehl (principal), Mrs. Lisa Bolser (Cafeteria Manager) and Mrs. Judi Hunter (Food Service Director)
Talawanda Schools: Mrs. Amy Macechko (Health and Wellness Director), Mrs. Pat Schroer (Marshall Cafeteria Manager), Mrs. Brenda Elliott (Bogan Cafeteria Manager) and Mrs. Karen Taylor (Kramer Cafeteria Manager).