This fall, Aramark is introducing a sampling program called Healthy Bites to its 500-some school district clients in order to encourage students to test unfamiliar foods that will then be available on the school menu. According to Aramark's proprietary Student ViewPOINT consumer research program, 55% of students are interested in making healthy choices sometimes, while almost a third of students say they have tried fruits and vegetables at school that they haven't had before.
"We are excited that students are paying attention to their health, and even more encouraged that they are already trying new foods when dining with us at school," said Linda Sceurman, R.D.N. and Director of Nutrition and Menu Development for Aramark's Education business. "We believe that the Healthy Bites program will help to increase the number of students expanding their food palates by educating and empowering them to make healthy choices each and every day."
The Healthy Bites program, which reaches about two million students at over 2,000 elementary and secondary schools nationwide, encourages students to test unfamiliar foods via free samples of items that will then be available on the school menu.
At Houston ISD, "[o]ur chefs have been offering samples of different foods to students at all grade levels, from whole grain muffins and wraps to vegetarian chili and lasagna, to introduce them to healthier alternatives," says Aramark GM Ray Danilowicz. "In addition to having fun, the students are surprised that these new foods actually taste great, and are asking their parents if they can serve them at home, too."
Showcased foods are selected in conjunction with monthly wellness messages around topics such as MyPlate and food variety. Examples of menu items that may be sampled throughout the year include chicken, pasta and vegetables with rosa sauce, a roasted vegetable wrap, fish soft tacos and a Baja fajita chicken salad.