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School Meals Experiment: Can a Taste Test Increase Vegetable Acceptance?

  • Newman, Constance
  • Guthrie, Joanne
  • Mancino, Lisa
  • Snelling, Anastasia

As of fall 2012, school food services have needed to provide vegetables in greater quantities and diversity to fulfill new USDA requirements for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). This paper summarizes the results of a set of experiments conducted in four DC public schools that provided taste tests of new vegetables to NSLP participants. Using a basic difference-in-difference design, the results found that a simple taste test led to higher consumption among students of collard greens, and a more elaborate taste test that allowed students to vote on their favorite style of preparation led to higher consumption of sweet potatoes, a starchy vegetable that was surprisingly unpopular at the beginning of the year. The small numbers of schools included in the study limits the tests somewhat, but the positive and significant results suggest that exposing children to new vegetables, and especially giving them some ownership in how the vegetables are prepared, can lead to more children eating new vegetables.

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Paper provided by Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in its series 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. with number 150504.

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Date of creation: 03 Jun 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea13:150504
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  1. Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2009. "Do School Lunches Contribute to Childhood Obesity?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(3).
  2. Benjamin L. Campbell & Rodolfo M. Nayga & John L. Park & Andres Silva, 2011. "Does the National School Lunch Program Improve Children's Dietary Outcomes?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1099-1130.
  3. Just, David R. & Mancino, Lisa & Wansink, Brian, 2007. "Could Behavioral Economics Help Improve Diet Quality for Nutrition Assistance Program Participants?," Economic Research Report 6391, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  4. Mancino, Lisa & Guthrie, Joanne F., 2009. "When Nudging in the Lunch Line Might Be a Good Thing," Amber Waves, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, March.
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