“Our first taste is with our eyes:” Promoting Healthy Eating with Food Presentation in the School Ca

June 30, 2010 | Written By:

Today we have a guest blog by Jean Saunders, Director of Marketing at Chartwells Thompson Hospitality for Chicago Public Schools. Thanks to Jean for this post! 


In her article, “Small changes steer kids toward smarter school lunch choices
in the Washington Post, Jane Black points out just how much
presentation matters when it comes to food. She references researchers
such as Brian Wansink, Director of Cornell's Food and Brand
, who showed that changing the lighting and the way the food was
presented in school cafeterias could increase fruit consumption by 54

Chefs and home cooks alike understand that our first
taste is with our eyes. This is just as true in the school cafeteria as
it is at home or in a restaurant.

For this reason, Chicago
Public Schools cooks will participate this summer in a comprehensive
culinary training program that covers a broad array of techniques —
including food presentation. As the district moves to improved nutrition standards for
school food, presentation can make an additional difference in promoting
healthy eating to kids. The cooks will receive instruction in batch
cooking techniques to ensure that food looks fresh throughout the lunch
service. They'll learn ways to arrange food attractively on the service
line, such as stacking loose items attractively in pans and adding
garnishes, and will learn techniques for refilling pans to ensure that
the food is well presented. Next year, schools will unveil more small
changes to presentation: new and different serving utensils, wire
baskets for presenting fruit, attractive white pans. We will work with
the cooks and school dining staff to ensure that fruit and vegetables
have a prominent position in the serving line.

This kind of
simple change, research shows, can increase the appeal of healthy foods
and have a real impact on kids' eating habits. 


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