Laura Lyles Reagan
Special to the PRESS
The wonderful smells emanating from the SPI Convention Center signaled delectable delights from 120 vendors. Sounds of happily empowered children and teens filled the air. This was the scene at the School Nutrition Product Expo sponsored by Region One Region One Child Nutrition Program-South Texas Cooperative at South Padre Island on October 17, 2019.
Over 250 elementary, middle school, and high school students attended the event to “taste test” food products presented by participating food vendors.
Kristin Carrazales, Region One Purchasing Cooperative Specialist said, “Groups of students from among the 67 participating districts attend. As school district cafeterias nationwide work to comply with federal nutrition regulations and offer nutritious menu options, the dilemma is always, ‘will the students like it?’ Who better to ask, than the students themselves.”
Students are given clipboards and walk the floor of the convention center tasting everything from fruit and vegetables to sushi and rate it. According to Carrazales, the data is collected in the aggregate. Vendors are ranked and preferences listed. Based on the student feedback, the Region One Child Nutrition Program – South Texas Cooperative (CNP-STC) will determine products available for its cooperative members to purchase.
Students representing Rio Grande City ISD said the cinnamon buns were the best. Audry said she felt a little pressure to represent the other students tastes. Noe said, “Even the nutritious food was good – like grapes.”
Emilia Guerra, Assistant Food Services Coordinator at Rio Grande ISD says, “The kids feel empowered and we get to make sure our purchases will be eaten.”
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