Election season may be over but students in Winona are still voting, but not on a presidential candidate -- on what they like to eat for lunch.
At lunch time on Tuesday at Washington Kosciusko Elementary in Winona, there was one more stop in the lunch line before students could get to their seats.
“Do you want to try some rutabaga today?” asked Naomi Pahl, a Winona State University student.
Once a month students from Winona State Wniversity volunteer and dress up in costumes to man the Tasty Tuesday table, introducing kids to new fruits and vegetables.
“The more that you're creative, and I think the more that you excite the kids, the more they’re willing to eat and then the more they’re just actually willing to try it,” said Aimie Heinz, creator of Tasty Tuesdays.
Heinz, a Winona State grad, helped develop the program when she was still in school.
It's a simple concept -- kids are asked to just try the fruit or vegetable, anywhere from a lick to eating the entire sample all at once, and then let their taste buds do the talking.
“We have ‘yum’ and ‘yuck’ bags, and so they can put it in the bag with the smiley face or they can put it in the bag with the sad face, and that's how we record the children's responses,” said Heinz.
“Did you like them?,” Pahl asked a student. “No? Put it in the ‘yuck’ bag. Thanks for trying them.”
This month it's rutabagas, a vegetable the kids said has an interesting taste.
“ They tasted like watermelon,” said one student.
“Strawberries,” said another student.
“Carrots,” said another student.
This is the second year for the program at Washington Kosciusko, and already the district's nutrition director, Lyn Halvorson, said she's seen fruit and vegetable consumption go up.
“Young kids are very willing to try things, and we've noticed at the high school level their patterns are really set and they're not willing to try things,” said Halvorson. “So that's why we try to do food education at this level. We try to offer a lot of different things for kids to try and I think it's been really successful.”
And the hope is as these students get older, eating fruits and vegetables will just come naturally.
“We hope it shows in the future, that they're willing to make that a lifestyle change and eat healthy from there on out,” said Heinz.
All student, whether they brought their own lunch or went through the line can participate in Tasty Tuesday’s.
The final vote for rutabagas was 127 “Yums” and 23 “Yucks.”
This year is also the first year all five elementary schools in Winona have implemented the Tasty Tuesday's program.
All of the fruits and vegetables that are a part of the Tasty Tuesday’s program are added to the lunch menu the following week for students to sample again.
Kids who try the food again the following week get a small prize.