Westfield High School students Kaylan Hammond, from left, and Dorion Criner are busy sampling and rating new lunch menu items.
HOUSTON – April 20, 2018 – Instead of just complaining about cafeteria food, students from the five Spring ISD high schools are helping design the contents of next year’s lunch menus.
During the Superintendent’s Student Groups Taste Testing on Wednesday, hosted by the Child Nutrition Department and Superintendent Rodney E. Watson, the district solicited the opinions of students who got a chance to sample new menu items under consideration.
“Having students be the ones who get to taste possible foods before we roll them out is a great way to get first-hand feedback on how they feel about cafeteria food,” said Spring ISD Child Nutrition Director Shelly Copeland. “These taste-testing groups are open conversations to gather feedback and survey students about our food services as a department and the district as a whole.”
Watson started each meeting by asking the focus groups for a show of hands over lunch menu likes and dislikes. Candid opinions were quickly shared.
“These student focus groups are designed to take on a topic each year of what’s important to them,” Watson said. “The year before last they considered student dress. They expressed recommendations on what needs to happen. It’s about giving students voice.”
During the fall meeting, the focus was child nutrition, food, food service, food quality and food recommendations. In turn, Watson worked with the child nutrition department and brought together students to share their experiences with school meals.
TaKirra Anderson, a senior at Westfield High School, liked the student participation. “We appreciate that you are concerned about us and how we like the food,” she said. “You are taking our likes and dislikes into account.”
The sample menu items the students tasted included pita turkey wraps, all-in-one burgers with cheese, spiced corn and waffle fries.
Watson emphasized that students, with ready access to fast food, need the alternative of well-balanced, nutritious meals they will eat each day. Austin Gutierrez, a sophomore at Westfield High School, appreciated the initiative.
“I may not like everything they serve for lunch, but today I’m glad our opinions matter,” Gutierrez said. “We are the ones eating the meals, and it’s important to us. I hope they take our opinions seriously and fix the menus soon.”
Copeland and Watson said the opinions collected from the five school focus groups will be reviewed by child nutrition and support services, and taken into account when the final menus are assembled.
“Hopefully they make some good changes and kids will be more active in lunch,” Anderson said.