Raise your hand if getting picky eaters to try new, healthy foods is part of your everyday mission. If so, you probably know that offering samples is a proven way to make that happen.
That’s why the Whole Grains Council and nonprofit group Oldways are inviting foodservice operations—both commercial and noncommercial—to participate in the 4th Annual Whole Grain Sampling Day on April 1.
“There’s no fee and almost no rules,” says Cynthia Harriman, director of food and nutrition strategies for the Whole Grains Council and Oldways. “Just choose a plan of action that matches your marketing goals.” The Whole Grain Council’s website provides sample marketing plans and buzz-building ideas, like daily grain, buy-one-get-one, “guess the grain” promotions, sweepstakes and more. Last year, the University of Minnesota even took part in a whole-grain flash mob(!) Interested operators can also find resources like ready-made tweets, downloadable signage, brochures and inspiration for sample items on the website. An additional resource is two books on using whole grains in foodservice.
Foodservice teams around the country can take this opportunity to collaborate on appealing new items that feature whole grains like quinoa, farro, wheat berries and more. Recent studies have shown that whole grains can lower the risk for stroke, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. However, those whole-grain health benefits will be lost if no one tries them. That’s where chefs come in, adding flavor and fun to the mix. Offering samples is a no-risk way for picky eaters to come to the healthy destination of “try it, you might like it.”
The promotion immediately appealed to Jacklyn Aldrich, director/coordinator of special services at the Chadwick R-1 School District.
“What a great way to teach our kids that whole grains aren’t yucky,” Aldrich says. “Missouri is one of the most overweight states, and school is a great starting point to change the way kids look at food and what they choose at the supermarket and even suggest to their parents to make.”
The Chadwick foodservice team, including chefs, cooks and dietitians, worked with Aldrich to create not just a one-day menu for Whole Grain Sampling Day, but enough creative menu items for a whole month. Would be great to know more about some of the items they created for this promotion.
“The more people that got involved, the more amazing whole-grain recipes we came up with,” Aldrich says, adding that they checked out the Whole Grain Council’s suggestions for inspiration.
So far, several foodservice teams nationwide have signed on to the promotion, including California State University Los Angeles, Chadwick (Mo.) R-1 School District, Google, Jenkins-White Elementary School,in Augusta, Ga, and select schools in the University of Florida Nutrition Program.