Last night’s food experiment with the kids far exceeded my expectations, which reminds me of an important life lesson—never underestimate people. Those kids are great, and I shouldn’t have doubted their willingness to try something different.
For those of you who haven’t read, Hubby and I set up a salad bar for the kids who attend the Wednesday night children ministry. We always serve them a snack supper, and last night I tried the salad idea for the first time with them. There were a few things that seemed to help with the success of last night.
1. I didn’t go too far out of the norm with the offerings. I kept the ingredients for the salad fairly simple—lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower, green bell peppers, celery, tomatoes, dried cranberries, cheese, croutons, farm fresh eggs, chopped ham, cucumbers, and radishes.
2. I laid some ground work with the older kids reminding them that if they didn’t like something they could say, “No thank you” rather than negatively influencing the younger kids with “Eww” and “Gross”. I don’t know that this was necessary, though. They all seemed to find at least a couple of things on the salad bar that they liked.
3. Rather than sending all of the kids through the line at once, we helped them 3 at a time. This kept everyone from being overwhelmed.
4. The element of choice is, in my experience, important to people of any age. By allowing the kids to choose what went on their plate, I think they were more receptive to trying something different. Some of the kids who had never tried radishes before gave them a shot and said, “Not too bad.” ;)
5. In regards to the issue of money, I had been concerned about wasting food that wouldn’t be eaten. The opposite effect seemed to happen. Kids didn’t pile food on their plates but did return for seconds if they wanted it. Rather than placing an arbitrary amount on their plate and some of that going in the trash, by giving them the ability to decide what and how much went on their plates, they seemed more likely to eat what they had taken. Also, I LOVED that they went back for seconds. One sweet boy, whose mom I met in the Holistic Moms Network, sheepishly asked when he went back to the salad bar, “Can I have that whole egg for myself?” Of course you can! Farm fresh, good for you eggs, you bet you can have a whole one!
6. We supervised the salad bar. We helped to spoon things out for the kids but in the amounts that they desired. This kept the spoons from being intermingled, hands being used to grab food, and other mishaps.
Breakfast—scrambled farm fresh eggs, cinnamon raisin bread (local), coffee. Today I tried Rebecca’s trick and used steamed, frothed milk instead of any sweetener. I have no idea why, but it tasted sweeter. What weird chemical reaction or placebo effect occurred, I don’t know, but I liked it! I didn’t add any flavoring or sweetener of any kind and the frothed milk made it perfect.
Lunch—I enjoyed a beautiful lunch at Three Rivers Market with a friend. We ate off of the hot bar and the food was fantastic! The co-op’s chefs do a great job of serving “real” food in a really appetizing way.
Supper—Veggie Night—we’ll have roasted sweet potatoes, salad, grits (local grits, local milk, organic butter), roasted asparagus (from the garden), and steamed broccoli (half from the garden and half from the store)
Beverages—black unsweetened tea, coffee, water