Region 5 Co-op food show allows East Texas students to weigh in on cafeteria options

East Texas students get chance to taste school cafeteria food to help districts decide on what items to bring to schools.
Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 6:02 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 3, 2023 at 6:20 PM CDT

LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - School food has transformed from the old cardboard cheese sticks to oven baked cheesy flatbreads, crispy tacos, and more.

Region 5 Food Service Co-op Coordinator Delois Harris said one of their main goals is to give students a choice.

“As they taste, there’s a card and each vendor has whatever you’re serving for that day, whatever you’re trying, it’s on that card and kids get an opportunity to check if I like it, I’m going to check, if they don’t like it, they may leave it blank or they may put an X,” said Harris.

The Region 5 food service co-op represents 40 area school districts, charter schools, and outreach programs. The service acts as a liaison between cooperating schools and vendors. Food products are bid on in large volume, which lowers the unit price that schools pay.

“So, we go out and we see what’s new or what’s revamped and we just get with a vendor, and we bring those items in so that our students can have an opportunity to taste and see as well,” said Harris.

White garlic cheese pizza with avocado and Carolina vinegar flavored pork is just one of the items students are raving about at the event. Nacogdoches ISD Senior Juan Perez said he enjoyed the variety that the 77 vendors had to offer.

“It’s made me experience different tastes; I like to expand my palette. I’ve never really got to experience that before,” said Perez.

Perez had some favorite foods as well.

“Frozen yogurt, that was pretty good, cake batter, really recommend it. Chicken, they were like little chicken bites or whatever, they were really good, I’d really recommend that one,” said Perez.

After reviewing the responses of the students, district directors decide which items to bring to their schools based on the input given.

The food show is held every year.