The looks on their faces when they tasted the cider vinegar were priceless.

Some of the students opened their eyes wide, others slammed them shut so hard their heads shook. “That’s vinegar!” one shouted. “That’s gross!” said another. “I kinda like it,” one whispered to her friend.

Lowerlab5From olive oil to salt to lemon juice

, kids participating in a Take a Taste with Spoons program blindly sample components of a recipe before combining them together into a snack or meal. It is a subtle reminder of what happens when individuals come together to form a classroom, a family, a community.

“One of our goals with this, as with all our programs, is to encourage positive, and ultimately healthy food memories for children,” explains Alexandra Weisman McDowell, Director of Programs and Partnerships for SAA.

“The lessons in Take a Taste set the groundwork and develop the language, for these memories. Sour brings them to the lemonade they made with their grandfather on the hottest day of the summer. Salt reminds them of the pickles they ate with their best friend at the street fair. And sweet? Maybe it’s the cookies they made with their mom, but hopefully it’s also the crisp New York apple they tasted one day in their 3rd grade classroom.”

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As the lessons go on, students use what they learned about the elements of taste to think critically about food and discerningly about ingredients. What is the role of sugar in sweetening beverages? How much is too much? What are healthier alternatives to soda? Can we create these alternatives in our classroom and then, ultimately, at home? The class makes their own sparkling beverage and snacks to enjoy together.  In addition to learning about flavors and recipes, the kids receive conversation prompts to jump start discussions around the table while they’re eating.

This fall, Take a Taste is occurring in third grade classrooms across New York City.

“We have an amazing group of Curriculum Leader and volunteers who will be working in the classrooms this Fall,” said McDowell. “They come from an array of backgrounds and experiences- students in food studies and nutrition, lawyers, financial experts, chefs, parents and teachers. They bring their talents and own interest in food to our students

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, but will also serve in a “mentoring” role, developing relationships in the classroom as they visit each week, representing for students the various options and opportunities they have as they grow up. ” 

Are you interested in volunteering for Spoons Across America’s Take a Taste program? Contact us here.

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