Food Factor Wheel adds a Spin to Taste Test Events

Schools in northeast Ohio put a new spin on nudging kids to eat their vegetables. Students step up, spin the Food Factor Wheel, and take a taste. In this game – everyone is a winner.

Boardman Local Schools

WHEEL.jpg“We are trying the wheel because if they do try it without the pressure of having it on their tray, then maybe they will say, ‘Oh, let me take one little bite,’ and they will like it versus having a bunch of it on their tray that they are intimidated by and then end up throwing away,” said Boardman food service director Natalie Winkle.

“You have to introduce it slowly so they will get accustom to it,” said Winkle. At Boardman, students tried one or more of the following items:

  • Roasted carrots
  • Edamame
  • Spinach
  • Parmesan zucchini straws
  • Rosemary and garlic roasted black beans
  • Beets
  • Sweet, spicy garbanzo beans

Beets were the big, surprising hit. Some students didn’t recognize the item – but that didn’t stop them from trying (and liking) the purple vegetable. Roasted black-beans were also very popular, especially after the principal gave the item two thumbs up.

Click HERE to see a video of the Food Factor Wheel in action!

Springfield Local Schools

TRAY.jpgSpringfield food service supervisor Joyce Dicks offered students a taste of some out-of-the-ordinary fruits – pomegranate, kiwi, and star fruit – with more common options of blueberries, cantaloupe, cherry tomatoes, eggplant and yellow squash. “It was our first taste test event, and we wanted to get their attention – the variety of shapes and colors really created a lot of interest.  That said, we were surprised by the number of students who had not previously tried fresh cantaloupe or blueberries.”

Most of the 400 Springfield Local students sampled a fruit or vegetable and 90% of the kids found a fruit or vegetable that they liked. “That’s a huge success!” observed Dicks.

Springfield plans to build on the momentum by offering the kid-tested items within the menu or as part of the salad bar.  Plans are also underway to start a school garden where students grow their own greens.

The next taste test will feature roasted vegetables. “Roasting vegetables brings out a different, sweeter flavor in vegetables – we think our kids will be pleasantly surprised by the taste,” adds Dicks.


Researchers have found that kids become more interested in fruits and vegetables with repeated positive exposure, and exposure to a variety of items.

“We are going to do evaluations and see how the items perform when they appear on the menu. Based upon the overwhelming positive responses at the event, we expect fruit and vegetable selection to increase,” said Beth Stefura with the OSU Extension.

Next week, read about the creative way Austintown Local used pizza dough to introduce a spice bar and what happened when Sebring Schools added spaghetti squash to the wheel!

Sign up HERE to hold a taste test event at your school and receive 500 Official Taste Tester stickers. Click “Register Now” and receive your Taste Test Toolkit.


Contributors of this blog post include:

Beth Stefura, M Ed, RD, LD

Educator, OSU Extension

Natalie Winkle

Food Service Director, Boardman Food Services

Boardman Local Schools

Joyce Dicks

Nutrition Services Supervisor, Springfield School Nutrition

Springfield Local Schools

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