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 Lab, who showed that changing the lighting and the way the food was presented in school cafeterias could increase fruit consumption by 54 percent.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.