Trying new foods can be intimidating for adults and children alike. After all, wariness about unfamiliar foods is one way our brain balances our innate sense of curiosity as humans. Without that little voice that says Wait, are you really sure you want to eat that green thing? we’d run a much higher risk of ingesting harmful or toxic substances.
However, this same instinct can create a big roadblock when it comes to people, especially kids, branching out from their comfort zone and trying vegetables, grains and other nutritious foods that they’ve never had before. Repeat exposure helps new things seem less peculiar and increases the chances that someone might try something they once turned down. And if those new foods are paired with more recognizable ingredients, all the better. Beets, for example, might seem less “weird” if when they’re roasted, sauced with a tasty dressing and tossed with tangy, salty feta cheese. This is the impetus behind CCFB’s, Taste It! & Eat Fresh.
Taste It! has been part of Chester County Food Bank’s outreach programming for the past three years. The food demonstrations, offered as a facet of the Food Bank’s Food Security programming, allow people an opportunity to try foods they might not otherwise consider. When we receive an abundance of a specific vegetable, such as kale, a Taste It! volunteer will search through our recipe database, prepare a delicious dish and offer small samples to pantry clients and customers at our Fresh2You Mobile Market. The proof of a successful Taste It! demo is when we see people adding fruits and vegetables that they’ve just sampled to their baskets.
Volunteers are at the core of Taste It! The CCFB staff trains volunteers on not only basic food safety and presentation skills, but also gives tips on client engagement. Volunteers are then able to prepare nutritious recipe samples and share basic information about how to cook healthy food on a limited budget. If you’re interested, please find more information and volunteer application here.
Eat Fresh is a series of cooking and nutrition classes that CCFB, in partnership with local community organizations, offers to provide youth and adults at risk for food insecurity with the tools and confidence to choose and cook healthy food for themselves and their families. Over the course of six weeks, each Eat Fresh participant practices hands-on cooking skills, learns how to select, decode and understand healthy recipes, and becomes acquainted with a range of fresh produce, whole grains and other healthy staples. To keep the momentum up at home, participants are welcome to take home the fresh fruits and veggies featured in class after each session.
We can see concrete evidence through Eat Fresh that when people are exposed to new foods and given the tools to cook simple, nutritious foods, they feel empowered to take a chance and discover all kinds of new foods.
The Chester County Food Bank is the central hunger relief organization serving more than 120 food cupboards, meal sites and social service organizations throughout Chester County. We mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthy food.
Photos: Ed Williams