Good Food for Oxford Schools visits OHS


Zoe Scruggs, staff writer

It’s not every day that there is someone in the cafeteria standing next to a table with a sign saying “Free Cucumber Samples.” Wednesday, however, was that day.

Good Food for Oxford Schools visited the high school campus to offer students a cucumber taste test. The goal: to see if students are interested in or like cucumbers, and to encourage students to try them in the salad bar in the lunch line.

“This is just a way to gauge interest in cucumbers,” FoodCorps service member Mary Elizabeth Smithson said.

According to the Oxford School District website, Good Food for Oxford Schools works to inform students and families on the importance of having a “nutrient-rich diet” and to encourage the use of fresh, local foods if available.

“These were grown at St. Bethany Fresh Farms in Pontotoc, Mississippi — so right down the road — and they are English burpless cucumbers,” Smithson said of her cucumber offerings at OHS on Wednesday.  “The skin is a lot thinner so it makes it a little easier to eat than normal cucumbers.”

To gauge and document the students’ opinions of the cucumbers, stickers and poster board were used.

“Once they try it, they have to rate it and put a sticker under ‘I loved it,’ ‘It was okay,’ or ‘No thanks,’” Smithson said.

Smithson had been to Della Davidson Elementary School, Oxford Middle School, and Oxford Intermediate School, prior to visiting Oxford High School. Della Davidson and the high school experienced a significant difference in terms of response level.

“The younger kids, honestly, they’re a much easier crowd to convince, but this age is much harder to convince,” Smithson said glancing at the poster board with a lack of stickers next to “OHS.”

Though GFOS is looking to see student interest in locally grown, healthy foods for students, this taste test is just to gain a general idea of their interest and is not statistical.

“This is not strict data gathering or anything,” Smithson said. “It’s more of just a fun way to expose people to it if they’ve never had cucumbers before.

“Our mission of GFOS to get more fresh, more local foods on the menus.  With these taste tests, it creates an environment where eating those kinds of foods is fun.”

Smithson plans to be visiting the schools again with different foods for students to test.

“We are working on getting some more local produce in the cafeterias,” Smithson said. “I’m not sure what we have next, but we will be here again for sure.

“For now, all of these cucumbers will be on all OSD school lunch menus until the end of the year.”