Representatives from 14 school districts across Oregon participated in the Oregon Department of Education’s Commodity Selecting Taste Tests at Salem-Keizer’s Food Services Center yesterday.
“When you’re testing over 130 different food products in one day, you take small bites,” joked Nancy Satalich, Assistant Director of Salem-Keizer Food and Nutrition Services.
In blind taste tests, school district representatives tasted and gave scores to beef, cheese and apple products whipped up at the test kitchen by vendors, both local and nationwide, that sell bulk commodities. Those participating in the tests included staff from food services departments at Portland, Beaverton, Lebanon, Independence, Dallas and Oregon Trails school districts.
The Oregon Department of Education works with school districts to select commodity vendors that supply food for school breakfasts and lunches. That work is led by Chris Facia, USDA Commodity Food Manager with ODE. The taste testing by school districts determines which vendors will be selected to supply each item in the coming year. Along with flavors, foods are also selected based on texture and appearance.
In upcoming taste tests, school districts will sample chicken, pork and other items available as commodities in preparation for placing orders this spring.