Students Make For Tough Food Critics At A Dallas ISD Taste Testing | KERA News

Students Make For Tough Food Critics At A Dallas ISD Taste Testing

Mar 28, 2019

The Dallas school district hosted a taste test of potential menu items Thursday, and the food went before about 150 of the toughest critics: children.

Dallas ISD's annual Food Fest looks a lot like a job fair, but instead of people in suits handing out resumes, there are students in lime green shirts munching on things like fruit popsicles, hummus and miso noodle soup.

Produce distributor Vivian McCullough offers veggies and salads at her table. She says the kale mac and cheese salad is a surprise hit.

"It's a salad kit and it comes with kale, trotolle pasta, feta and a basil pesto sauce," she says. "It comes all pre-portioned for you. You throw it together and you've got a pre-made salad."

But the kids aren't here to just try the food. They're here to judge it too, and their critiques could make or break an item's chances of getting on school menus.

Eighth grader Mia Martinez has high standards.

"The nutrition has to be good," she says. Also what makes a good contender is "that it's not, like, too cold or too hot. It has a good temperature. The texture, as well. And also, the kinds of foods it's mixed in with."

The students fill out surveys on iPads scattered across the venue. Menu supervisor Melinda Hillis and DISD's child nutrition team use that feedback to help build next year's menus.

"We analyze the data first to see what the students liked and make sure we're able to purchase those products and able to execute those products at the cafeteria level," she says. 

If it was up to 14-year-old Desire Reyes?

"McDonald's food," she says, emphatically. "Their french fries especially." 

There probably won't be Big Macs on lunch trays any time soon, but breakfast pizza may make the cut . It got rave reviews from these young foodies.