Students Have Their Say on Next Year’s Cafeteria Selections

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Feedback from students and parents who sampled more than 150 foot items from 44 vendors at HISD’s first annual food show will be used by HISD’s Food Services Department to help determine which items will show up in school cafeterias next school year.

About 500 people attended the show on Oct. 24 at the Sheraton Houston Brookhollow Hotel, where the Waltrip High School Jazz Band performed, and raffle tickets were handed out to attendees.

Banquet tables were full of families tasting food, comparing notes, and filling out evaluation forms. “Mom, try this!” could be heard as students brought samples to parents and siblings.

Shirley Gutierrez and her 7-year-old son, Isaiah, enjoyed the show – and scored a winning raffle ticket for free movie passes.

“Isaiah is so picky,” Gutierrez said. “It’s a great idea to let him have a say in what will be offered at his school next year.”

Participating vendors followed strict guidelines regarding nutrition, innovation, and price. Some of the more popular items were Jennie O’s turkey meatballs, AdvancePierre’s Philly Cheese Steak made with sirloin beef, Peas of Mind’s Garden Fries made from broccoli and cauliflower, and Country Pure’s vegetable and fruit punches.

Innovative ingredients included quinoa, WowButter (which tastes like peanut butter but is made from soybeans), and sauces such as Jamaican jerk and tandori spice, toned down for kids’ palettes. Nutrition information was posted at each vendor table, and representatives were available to answer questions.

Eighth-grader Janae Sanders found out about the show when she logged into her school computer and saw the story about the show on the HISD website.

“I told my mom we have to go,” she said. “I want all of this at my school every day!”

Janae’s mother, Jennifer Sanders, who teaches at Lyons Elementary School, said, “It’s especially great for the students to have a choice.” Her son, Kasey, who is in kindergarten, was busy enjoying his frozen-watermelon juice cup.