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Students taste test possible school menu items at Longview food show

Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 3:31 PM CDT
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LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - There’s no doubt the school lunch has changed quite a bit over the last several decades with a focus on nutrition. But taste is also a deciding factor at the annual Region 7 Food Service Show where over 65 vendors provided samples for students who report their favorites back to their schools.

It looked and smelled like a smorgasbord inside Maude Cobb as vendors presented their culinary best to students and school food service directors. Region 7 Child Nutrition Program Coordinator Cathy Brady is over more than a hundred schools, and that’s a lot of hungry kids.

“The students are the main factor. Child nutrition in a school district is a small business. It needs to be run as a small business. The students and the students only are the customers. It’s a child nutrition program,” Brady said.

And that is exactly why the customers, like Keagon Blackmon from Rusk, are represented from many Region 7 school districts.

“Did you just get in?” I asked Keagan.

“Yes sir, about ten minutes ago,” Keagan replied.

“Oh so you haven’t sampled that much yet,” I offered.

“I sampled about ten things probably,” he said.

“Ten things in ten minutes?” I asked him.

“I like food,” Keagan smiled.

There’s a lot more to like, but so far Keagan likes the Nardone Bros. pepperoni pizza the best. Junior Adisan Burton, also from Rusk, says some food choices from previous years have made it to their cafeteria this year.

“Did you try the gummi-bear casserole?” I asked Adisan.

“No, sir, I did not,” Adisan said.

“Junior mint stew?”

“I did not,” she laughed.

“They are the best of both worlds,” I said.

“Yes, sir, I bet so,” Adisan said.

Actually, they didn’t have those, but even so Adisan likes the set up.

“I think it makes the kids feel more important that they’re getting to choose what they eat every day, and we’re not just getting served something that we don’t want to eat,” Adisan said.

“And if they like the foods it can give us more energy to work on schoolwork and stuff like that,” Keagan said.

“When a child doesn’t eat, then they don’t perform as well in school. It’s a proven fact. It’s scientifically based,” Brady said.

And the food critics, I mean students, know tasty nutrition is what’s needed to fuel their future.

There wasn’t a food service show last year because of the pandemic. Region 7 says there were about 25 less vendors this year but the students still had plenty of choices for recommendations.

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