In order to determine the popularity of their new food products in schools, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently turned to their most important customers: schoolchildren. Around 30 students from Van Ness Elementary School were chosen to be taste-testers for the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service. This initiative marked the agency’s first attempt at conducting taste tests with students.
During the taste-testing, the students had the opportunity to try various food items including burgers with cherry and fig barbecue sauce, pizza topped with tomato and plum-puree sauce, guacamole made with broccoli and asparagus, frozen peach cups, and trail mix. The majority of the products received positive feedback from the students, although the marketing service may need to make some adjustments based on one or two items.
A 6th grader named Irvin Scott voiced his opinion, stating that the sauce didn’t taste anything like barbecue. This kind of candid but valuable feedback was exactly what the Agriculture Department was seeking, as expressed by George Chartier, a spokesperson for the USDA’s marketing service.
The department allocates significant funds each year to support the national school lunch program, regularly purchasing food items to assist schools in meeting nutrition and dietary requirements. The Agriculture Marketing Service also utilizes its commodity-procurement programs to buy food products, particularly when there is an excess supply, in order to provide stable markets for farmers. The school lunch and breakfast programs benefit greatly from these purchases.
"We are putting in extra effort to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables in children’s diets while supporting the industry," stated Mr. Chartier.
—Adrienne D. Coles