Development and Use of an Evaluation Tool for Taste-Testing Activities by School-Aged Children

Published:October 11, 2012DOI:


      We describe the development and application of a teacher-administered tool for routine program evaluation of food-tasting activities among low-income children and adolescents in a classroom or afterschool setting. This six-item evaluation tool is intended to capture student willingness to try new foods and ask for them at home. Phase 1 involved one-on-one interviews to determine the feasibility of the taste test tool among nine elementary school teachers in 2009 (168 students) and a validation pilot study in 2010 among 114 school-aged students participating in a University of California Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Nutrition Education (UC SNAP-Ed) summer program. Phase 2 determined instrument reliability and compared student response by grade level and food category in a convenience sample of 514 UC SNAP-Ed classrooms in 2010-2011. The mean proportion of the classroom ever having tried the foods before was 0.62±0.33, and 0.77±0.27 were willing to ask for the foods at home (P<0.0001). Compared with younger students (preschool through sixth grade), older students (seventh through 12th grade) were less likely to try the foods in class and less willing to try them again or ask for them at home (P<0.05). Students reported significantly greater previous exposure and willingness to try the food again for fruits than for vegetables (P<0.0001). A teacher-administered taste test tool is feasible to use in a group setting and capable of yielding valid, reliable information to evaluate student response and to guide SNAP-Ed program delivery.


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      L. L. Kaiser is a nutrition specialist, Department of Nutrition, University of California at Davis


      G. George is a doctoral degree candidate, Department of Nutrition, University of California at Davis


      C. Schneider is director, Youth, Families, and Communities Statewide Program, University of California at Davis


      D. Ginsburg is director, University of California CalFresh Nutrition Program, University of California at Davis


      C. Mendoza is a nutrition, family, and consumer science advisor, University of California Cooperative Extension, Redding


      M. Neelon is a nutrition, family, and consumer science advisor, University of California Cooperative Extension, Pleasant Hill


      B. Roche is a nutrition, family, and consumer science advisor, University of California Cooperative Extension, Los Angeles