Increasing Healthy Options

Increasing Healthy Options

Student Tasting Panel for MANNA Packs

In August, nine WNC students generously gave up a few of their summer break hours to come to MANNA for a nutrition education and tasting event. This taste-testing event was the first of its kind, and was designed to help guide MANNA’s healthy food selection for the vital MANNA Packs program that provides weekly backpacks of supplemental food to thousands of WNC students every week. The event allowed students to taste new foods not previously used in the MANNA Packs program, and help provide feedback to our Youth Programs for healthy items that can be included in the backpack program. 

The new foods being tested are lower in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar, and higher in naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, and fiber. These foods can be easily combined to form meals that follow the USDA MyPlate recommendations. 

The tasting was blinded to remove any bias students may have toward certain foods or ingredients. Students sampled three to six foods in each of the following categories: vegetables, fruits, entrees, milk, and snacks. Students used a three-point scale to rank foods. After each food category was served, discussion ensued and qualitative feedback was collected. Results showed that students either “loved” or felt “ok” about 68% of the items, providing ample healthy food options to include in the MANNA Packs.

We are so grateful to these wonderful students for their open-minded approach, their excellent feedback, and their willingness to help support MANNA’s ongoing goals of increasing the nutritional value of the food we help provide to children across WNC.