Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fish tacos panned in Hillsborough school lunch test


They despised the fish tacos.

And that was before they tasted them. The words fish tacos on the menu were simply appalling, they said, punctuating their displeasure with groans and moans.

On Wednesday morning, 175 students from across Hillsborough County showed up at Strawberry Crest High School in Dover to rate 22 potential offerings for the coming school year's menu. Some offerings, such as pizza with whole wheat crust and lean pepperoni, earned positive reviews.

MaryKate Harrison, general director for the district's student nutrition department, said the expo was a good opportunity to interact with the school's "customers" and present them with healthful options. It's modeled after a program that started in Orange County.

Critics say schools need more home-cooked type options for kids, she said, such as the turkey pot roast or beef teriyaki dishes that debuted at the event.

Whether kids actually pick those foods in the lunch line depends on presentation and whether they've seen it at home, she said.

"Those are something that a normal 10-year-old would go through and say, 'What's that?' " she said.

Last year, Harrison said, the school district gave students almost 5 million servings of pizza — and just 420,000 of broccoli. If kids are going to choose pizza, she wants to make it as nutritious as possible, she said.

Elementary, middle, and high school students swarmed around Strawberry Crest's auditorium Wednesday morning, balancing plates on their taste rating clipboards.

For each dish, they could circle one of three smiley faces: Love It, Like It or Dislike It.

Many students said the food they rated compared favorably to the local fare at their schools during the year.

Some of the dish samples, like pepperoni pizza, were sentimental favorites, although the buffalo chicken pizza got marks off for being too spicy. Teriyaki beef dippers and spring rolls were come-from-behind surprises.

The fish tacos couldn't catch a break.

Before she took her first bite or looked at the food, Ruey Lamas, 9, said she was hungry, but would be discriminate in her choices.

"If I don't like something, I'm spitting it out," said Lamas, who attends Mary Bryant Elementary in Tampa.

The tacos lived up to her low expectations.

"I hated it," she said of the taco, a fish stick in a wheat wrap topped with cole slaw. It was cold, she said. It had mayonnaise. It was gross.

She wasn't alone.

Java Royal, 18, who attends Tampa's Jefferson High, said he would rig his fish taco taste test.

"I don't want to try that," he said. "I'm gonna make up something. I don't want to throw up on my walk home."

Hilary Lehman can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 661-2441.

Fish tacos panned in Hillsborough school lunch test 06/23/10 [Last modified: Thursday, June 24, 2010 2:16am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald team up to cool down the Clearwater Jazz Holiday


    A cool breeze swept through Coachman Park Saturday night. Couple of them, actually.

    Kenny Loggins performed at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Oct. 21, 2017.
  2. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start


    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  3. Lightning buries Penguins (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Ryan Callahan spent a lot of time last season rehabilitating his injured hip alongside Steven Stamkos, who was rehabbing a knee after season-ending surgery. During those hours, Callahan noticed two things about Stamkos: his hunger and his excitement to return this season.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek (29) advances the puck through the neutral zone during the first period of Saturday???‚??„?s (10/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy


    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.
  5. Funeral held for soldier at center of political war of words (w/video)


    COOPER CITY — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102