Students critique cafeteria lunches during taste testings at schools

Copperas Cove High School students go through the lunch line in the cafeteria taste testing foods. Students completed a survey afterward listing what foods they preferred and what they would like to see served as regular meal items.

Copperas Cove students may complain less now about the school cafeteria’s food choices since they were given the opportunity to select some of them.

Melissa Murray-Paez, Copperas Cove Independent School District director of child nutrition and warehouse services, put together several taste testings in various schools and allowed students to taste different fruits and vegetables.

“It’s not smart to offer something pretty to show on the plate that kids are just going to throw in the trash,” she said. “The whole purpose of having a nutritious plate is so students will eat (the food).”

Copperas Cove High School junior Emmitt Cooper, 16, seemed satisfied with the changes made in the cafeteria.

“The times that I’ve gone in the line, the variety was good and it tasted better,” said Cooper. “It seemed freshly cooked.”

Junior high students Kelby Szivos, 11, and Joelle Hawkins, 11, gave mixed reviews and expressed some concerns about the quality and variety of food served at their school.

“(It’s bad) because they have the same selection every day in the snack bar,” Kelby said. “In the regular lunch line, they have different things and it’s good.”

Kelby said she wants a bigger variety of fruits like grapes, peaches and watermelon.

Joelle’s review of school lunches was just the opposite.

“I think the variety is good,” she said. “I usually eat a chicken sandwich or a hamburger, and I only eat the apples.”

Although she liked the variety, Joelle said sometimes the food is not merely unappetizing, it is inedible.

“I think it’s pretty gross because some things are not cooked all the way,” she said. “Sometimes they are half frozen.”

Murray-Paez also improved the accessibility of food items by restructuring lunch line access for students.

All lines now accept both forms of payment, cash and free or reduced-price lunch. Murray-Paez said some students were not eating lunch simply because the food they wanted was not served in the free or reduced-price lunch lines.

“No matter the (economic) status of the students, they can go through any line,” she said. “Our numbers are increasing, so that means our students are eating.”

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