Nutrition-focused kids in food competition

Articles
March 26, 2009

Nutrition-focused kids in food competition

Sooner than you think, it could become a compliment to be called a Mickey Mouse operation—that is, if you are creating good-for-you foods for kids. Disney Consumer Products and The Institute of Food Technologists Student Association (IFTSA) have launched The Nutritious Food For Kids Competition to get the best and brightest students thinking about how to develop healthy, nutritious, fun, kid-friendly food products. Students will apply food science skills in the development process, from beginning to end. By now, teams made up of two to five food science students (IFTSA members only) were tasked with creating a retail or foodservice product for children under the age of 12 that includes at least one fruit or vegetable in the item or formulation. Following review of the preliminary proposals, six finalist teams will be selected. Final proposals will be submitted by May 1, and each finalist team will present their entry at the 2009 ITF Annual Meeting & Food Expo in Anaheim on June 8.

Sooner than you think, it could become a compliment to be called a Mickey Mouse operation—that is, if you are creating good-for-you foods for kids.

Disney Consumer Products and The Institute of Food Technologists Student Association (IFTSA) have launched The Nutritious Food For Kids Competition to get the best and brightest students thinking about how to develop healthy, nutritious, fun, kid-friendly food products.

Students will apply food science skills in the development process, from beginning to end. By now, teams made up of two to five food science students (IFTSA members only) were tasked with creating a retail or foodservice product for children under the age of 12 that includes at least one fruit or vegetable in the item or formulation. Following review of the preliminary proposals, six finalist teams will be selected. Final proposals will be submitted by May 1, and each finalist team will present their entry at the 2009 ITF Annual Meeting & Food Expo in Anaheim on June 8.

Entries are being evaluated on the basis of:
•    Product  – use, formulation, ingredient/component function, nutritional benefit, sensory tests, shelf life estimate, price/cost evaluation, and nutrition label.
•    Process – why chosen, process flow diagram, HACCP (hazard analysis critical control points) and operating costs.
•    Safety/regulations – formulations, function, process, legal implications of the product, GMP (good manufacturing practices), state and federal regulations.

To SupermarketGuru.com, this is an enlightened leap from Home Economics Class, where boys and girls boiled spaghetti and tied knots in each other’s aprons.  Who knows what kids like better than kids, after all? What would motivate kids to eat healthier than their own creations? With their expressed interest in food science, these kids could soon be positive influences in good nutrition at home—a great benefit to busy moms and dads who might otherwise slip sometimes in favor of convenience. 

That a family brand like Disney is involved with IFT makes sense, but we’d like to see efforts like these become more widespread, even common in school districts across the United States under the right guidelines and structure. Imagine the power of a new generation of food-thinking youth in addressing the many food issues of the coming decades, including nutrition.