KISD puts students' taste buds to test

Herald/David Morris - Students from Bellaire Elementary School dig into their minature pancakes during the annual KISD food tasting at Ellison High School. Students from across the district converged on Ellison’s campus to help select menu items for the next school year. Items such as breakfast egg rolls, miniature pancakes and precut grilled cheese sandwiches were a hit with the group.

By Rebecca Hertz

Killeen Daily Herald

The pancake maple burst'n was a hit with most of the 24 taste testers Wednesday at Ellison High School, but the breakfast pocket with egg, cheese and turkey sausage bombed.

Abigail Sala, an Ellison sophomore, didn't like either one. "It (the breakfast pocket) is cold, and I don't like eggs so that already set it back. I didn't like the first one, the pancakes, because it was really bland. If it had a little syrup, it would have done it."

The Killeen Independent School District conducted a student taste test to pick items for inclusion on the 2010 school menu.

Twenty-four students in grades 3 through 12 sampled 27 breakfast and lunch items, and provided comments about their likes and dislikes. Students were selected in a range of age, ethnicity and gender to provide the best survey results.

"Every item we have here are items we found at the Region 10 and Region 12 food shows in the last two weeks," said Steven Murphy, KISD nutritional services director. "The items are tested by the kids … if 85 percent of the kids like it, we put it on the menu no questions asked."

The students were given a ballot to check if they liked or disliked the item. Based on the results, the food is ordered through the district's commodity request that is submitted in January.

"Adult tastes are a lot different than kids' tastes," Murphy said. "We may sit down and say ... that's a great item, we think the kids will like it. We've done that for many years in the schools and it's not the right way to do it."

Murphy said children's feedback is valuable to the district when planning food purchases.

The breakfast egg roll resulted in mixed reviews. The barbecue brisket and the sample of mozzarella string cheese were favorites with most of the students.

"It (the breakfast egg roll) was pretty good. I kind of liked the sausage and all the mixed stuff in there," said River Ware, a third-grader at Bellaire Elementary School.

Garrett Hall, a seventh-grader at Nolan Middle School, said even though he doesn't like bagels, he liked the breakfast bagel with cheese because it tasted like a mini pizza.

Dawn Evans, the KISD nutrition coordinator, said there are requirements the district must meet regarding fat, calorie and sugar restrictions in the items they select.

"It's a continual challenge to find stuff they like because all the kids' tastes are different and even around town their tastes are different," Evans said.

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