Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough kids put new school lunch items to the test

Chiles Elementary School students Dakayla Hall, left, and Jordan Watts, both 9, sample new menu items for the 2011-12 school year menu on Wednesday at Freedom High School.

LARA CERRI | Times

Chiles Elementary School students Dakayla Hall, left, and Jordan Watts, both 9, sample new menu items for the 2011-12 school year menu on Wednesday at Freedom High School.

TAMPA — Exotic smells wafted from the kitchens at Freedom High School. Eighteen dishes, from Thai curry chicken and breakfast pizza to sweet potato casserole, had been prepared for a group of visiting food critics, and everything had to be just right.

The chefs had every reason to be nervous, because these weren't your run-of-the-mill fussy eaters. These judges were kids.

On Wednesday, the Hillsborough County school district asked students to sample potential additions to cafeteria menus at its second annual Fresh Flavors food-tasting expo. About 200 students, wearing "Official Taste Tester" buttons, filled out scorecards on each dish.

Even before the judging started, several admitted to holding strong opinions on the subject.

"I do not like sushi," announced Grace Torres, 12.

"We want salad bars," said Addison Fell, 10.

Food services director Mary Kate Harrison said last year's judges were tough. Fish tacos found few takers. Buffalo pizza drew more questions than fans since, after all, who eats buffalo? Teriyaki rated teri-yucky.

Harrison did her best to prepare them for the smorgasbord to come, telling students to sample the cafeteria offerings like true dining critics might.

"I want you to really smell it and look at it, and ask yourselves, 'Does this look delicious?' " she said. "And then I want you to taste it."

"Kind of pace yourselves as you go through," Harrison warned. "You're going to eat a lot of food today."

And then they were off.

Grace dashed straight to the breakfast hot pocket and dug in. Her eyes widened in delight.

"That's so good!" she said.

Jordan Algere, a 15-year-old member of the Middleton High School football team, spent time retasting a trail mix bar. It was healthy, he admitted, but he didn't take points off for that.

"Yeah, I'll definitely eat it again," he said.

Madison Padgett, 11, approached the chicken broccoli Alfredo with caution, poking it several times before giving it a taste. Not bad, she said, sounding only partially convinced.

But even the second time around, with a new recipe, the fish tacos struggled.

"It's nasty," Grace concluded. "It tastes weird."

Addison was more complimentary, but her wrinkled nose delivered its own verdict.

"I'm not a big fan, but it was good for something fishy," she said.

Twelve-year-old Mike Parisi took a more nuanced view. He could live with the fish tacos, but still, the kitchen had gone too far.

"I do think they went a little overboard with the sauces," he said.

Tom Marshall can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3400.

Hillsborough kids put new school lunch items to the test 06/29/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 11:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  2. Seminole Heights murders: fear and warnings, but no answers

    Crime

    TAMPA — Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan elicited loud gasps from the crowd of about 400 who showed up at Edison Elementary School on Monday night to learn more about the string of unsolved killings that have left the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood gripped by fear.

    Kimberly Overman, left, comforts Angelique Dupree, center, as she spoke about the death of her nephew Benjamin Mitchell, 22, last week in Seminole Heights. The Tampa Police Department held a town hall meeting Monday night where concerned residents hoped to learn more about the investigation into the three shooting deaths over 11 days in southeast Seminole Heights. But police could give the crowd at Edison Elementary School few answers. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  3. Juvenile justice reform seen as help for teen car theft problem

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations has decided to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year.

    One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations, Faith & Action for Strength Together (FAST), voted Monday night to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year. FAST believes civil citations could help Pinellas County?€™s teen car theft epidemic by keeping children out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. [ZACHARY T. SAMPSON  |  Times]
  4. U.S. general lays out Niger attack details; questions remain (w/video)

    War

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Special Forces unit ambushed by Islamic militants in Niger didn't call for help until an hour into their first contact with the enemy, the top U.S. general said Monday, as he tried to clear up some of the murky details of the assault that killed four American troops and has triggered a nasty …

    Gen. Joseph Dunford said much is still unclear about the ambush.
  5. Trump awards Medal of Honor to Vietnam-era Army medic (w/video)

    Military

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday turned a Medal of Honor ceremony for a Vietnam-era Army medic who risked his life to help wounded comrades into a mini homework tutorial for the boy and girl who came to watch their grandfather be enshrined "into the history of our nation."

    WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 23:  Retired U.S. Army Capt. Gary Rose (L) receives a standing ovation after being awarded the Medal of Honor by U.S. President Donald Trump during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House October 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Rose, 69, is being recognized for risking his life while serving as a medic with the 5th Special Force Group and the Military Assistance Command Studies and Observations Group during ‘Operation Tailwind’ in September 1970. Ignoring his own injuries, Rose helped treat 50 soldiers over four days when his unit joined local fighters to attack North Vietnamese forces in Laos - officially off limits for combat at the time.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) 775062921