Taste-testing puts students on road to healthy food

Kids more willing to try new items in small quantities at N.J. school

March 14—The small, round cheese-topped item on their plate  looked and smelled like a mini-pizza. And the 19 students sitting at cafeteria tables at Gloria M. Sabater Elementary School ate it up, just like it was pizza.

But it wasn’t pizza, it was actually eggplant parmesan. When told what it was, students said they’d still like to have it for lunch.

“Mmmmm. This is good,” said Robert Phillips, 9, as he circled the “happy face” on his rating sheet and added “Great Food!” in the comments section.

“I want more!” wrote Abigail Tollinchi, also 9.

Diane Holtaway, associate director of client services at the Rutgers Food Innovation Center in Bridgeton, was not all that surprised by the enthusiastic response to the eggplant.

“We kind of wondered about it,” she said. “But kids are more adventurous than you’d think. They are willing to try things if you present it in small quantities.”