Savor the Flavor: In School Broccoli Tastings with Low Sodium Flavor Stations

savor the flavor

Savor the Flavor (STF) is a k-6 school cafeteria and classroom promotion designed to encourage healthy food consumption like dark green vegetables.

STF Goals: 

  • To promote health and reduce chronic disease risk through the consumption of healthful foods and the achievement and maintenance of healthy body weight.
  • To improve health by creating systems and environments that promote positive health behaviors specific to obesity prevention.

savor the flavor On January 27, 2016,  seven schools participated in a Savor the Flavor the broccoli low sodium promotion. The overall goal of the event was to increase students’ selection of the promoted food  (broccoli), and to increase their knowledge and preference for low sodium food options. Chicago Partnership for Health Promotion staff engaged the students in the promotion activities by training students as Food Champions. Dressed in a chef hat and apron, Food Champions were asked to put a chipotle or jalapeno flavored salt-free seasoning mix on the broccoli of the students seated at their table.“Flavor stations” were also setup in the cafeteria with nutrition education materials, a sample platter of cruciferous vegetables and additonal flavors of the salt-free seasoning mix (provided by Kent Precision Foods Group). The STF promotion was linked to classroom instruction where students colored a page, which incorporated a custom Hardy the Heart graphic using herbs for a healthy soup. Lastly, the principals sent parents two resource handouts: a Salty Six, American Heart Association and a Cooking Matters broccoli recipe.

Overall the event was a great success, as it has been in years past. This year to better measure the event a small number of select schools did a plate waste study that measured consumption which included a pre and post evaluation.

Specifically, the evaluation addressed the following questions:

  1. Can the fun activities which include, sticker, broccoli signage and, nutrition education impact how children choose healthy vegetables at the tray-line?
  2. Does having a STF Cafeteria Promotion of broccoli at the point of purchase increase the consumption of broccoli for the reimbursable meal at a Chicago Public School?
  3. Will kids who eat Broccoli eat more of it, with the addition of herbs and spices?

The evaluation results were impressive. There were about 550 kids eating lunch at the pre and post broccoli sodium event. Out of 550 students for the pre evaluation 83 kids selected broccoli and during the promotion 354 kids selected broccoli. In looking at the percent increase of students choosing broccoli, 15% of kids chose broccoli during the pre-event plate waste study and 64% of kids chose broccoli during the broccoli low sodium promotion. When comparing the students that ate 100% of their broccoli at the pre evaluation 31% consumed all of the broccoli and during the promotion 35% consumed all of their broccoli. This was a 4% increase.

The positive results would have not have been possible without the help of a few organizations. A big thanks to Kent Precision Foods Group for their donation of tri-fold and Spice mix, Chicago Publics Schools, OrganWise Guys and Aramark.  Additionally a special thanks to the Food Dinning Manger Darnell Phillips and Principal Isaac Castelaz at the National Teachers Academy (NTA) for helping us with the plate waste study.

stf graph


Shirley Vouris R.D., L.D.N., University of Illinois, Chicago Partnership for Health Promotion