by Jeff Delp
Since Community Grounds opened, we have had a desire to not only be place that offers meaningful connection and conversation in our neighborhood, but also a place that serves healthy food. For awhile, customers and our staff have asked about getting fresh fruit smoothies on the menu. We know they are a healthier option and a great way to encourage neighbors to eat fresh fruits and veggies. However, we lacked appropriate space and equipment.
Thanks to Food Well Alliance, our kitchen got a complete renovation this summer. We added a new sink for washing fruit, counter space to prepare the smoothies, and hired a chef. Our staff were excited about the possibilities, but we wondered would customers purchase this healthier option?
We ultimately wanted to develop smoothies that were both healthy and appealing to youth. After all, high school students account for approximately 50% of our smoothie purchases. We wanted to keep their business! So we decided the best way to get their feedback was to engage them in the process.
Thanks to our summer intern Samantha from the The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation, we hosted a series of student focus groups and launched our first “Southside Smoothie Contest.” Youth were encouraged to submit recipes, and then our staff offered a workshop to help each contestant refine their creation. Over 16 students submitted smoothie recipes, and our staff selected the top four recipes. The two finalists were Spinach Delight and Peach Grape Cream Dream.
Then, we let our customers vote. We served samples, and groups of students came in to try out each smoothie. Both flavors were well-received, and tasters even liked the addition of spinach in a fruit smoothie. After the two days of sampling and voting, the Peach Grape Cream Dream was our winner! Seventeen-year old Kiara designed and named the smoothie, which will now be on our menu at Community Grounds. The next time you come to Community Grounds, ask to try a Fresh Fruit Smoothie!