Farm to School: January 2021

How can I get my child to eat [insert vegetable here]?” 


Who hasn’t struggled with getting a child to eat their vegetablesIt’s a common scenario that Farm to School addresses by regularly and repeatedly exposing children to fresh and local vegetables. It turns out that even visual exposure can be enough to help reluctant eaters try new foods over time. In other words, the more familiar a child is with a food (by touching, smelling, licking, tasting)the more likely they are to try it. The more often they try something the more likely they are to learn to like it. 

Our Farm to School Program increases children’s exposure to healthy foods in the following ways. 

  • Our snack menu repeats weekly for a month. This way, if a food is new for a child on the first week, by the end of the month they have been exposed at least four times, likely watching adults and other children eat and enjoy it. Many foods are repeated over several months, further increasing exposure. 
  • The Vermont Harvest of the Month is a great opportunity for children to explore locally grown vegetablesHere at Winston Prouty… 
    • Children get to explore the raw vegetable in the classroom.  
      • Teachers may set up stations to explore the food through their five senses and talk about what they notice about its color, shape, small, size, texture, etc. 
      • Sometimes art is incorporated and children are encouraged to draw what they see, or paint right on it, as was the case with pumpkins in the Acorn Room. 
      • Perhaps they get to help prep by washing, cutting, mashing, and more. 
  • New recipes are prepared throughout the month with the Harvest of the Month to allow children to try the food prepared in different ways. These “Taste Test” opportunities are separate from the snack program, so these new foods are a supplement to the more familiar snack options. 
  • Harvest of the Month explorations continue in many of our local elementary schools, providing continuity beyond the foundation we build here.             

Looking for ideas to help increase your child’s exposure to foods at home 

  • Let them help select produce at the store or market. 
  • Invite them to help prep vegetables.  
    • For very young children, let them explore one unit while you process the others. (One carrot, one leaf of chard, a halved and seeded pepper, etc.) 
    • Set up a sink or tub of water for children to wash produce in. This may look a lot like water play and that’s okay! 
    • Allow children to remove seeds from peppers, rip leafy greens into smaller pieces, and wrap large sweet potatoes up like babies and carry them around the house! If you’re comfortable, let children help chop vegetables. 
    • Offer new foods on children’s plates next to foods you know they will eat. Do not pressure them to eat new foods. Instead, model for them how much you enjoy eating it and talk about why that food is good for our bodies. 
    • Repeat.

Before the winter break, we were enjoying Sweet Potatoes. The children, having enjoyed bell pepper and kale quesadillas in the fall, got to try sweet potato quesadillas, too. We made two batches of sweet potato fries, one in the oven and another in our new air fryer, purchased with a grant from Rise VTFinally, we tried a yummy roasted sweet potato and apple mash. 

This month we get to explore beets. We look forward to sharing this nutritious super food with the children. Besides an offering of simple and delicious roasted beets (guaranteed to stain fingers and chins pink), we are considering beet muffins, beet hummus, and beet salad. Checout Vermont’s Harvest of the Month page to learn more about beets and try some of their suggested recipes–beets.html