Choice Partners Annual Nutrition Expo debuts new products to area schools

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October 26, 2017 by HCDE Communications

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Oct. 26, 2017 – Choice Partners, Harris County Department of Education’s purchasing cooperative, hosted its annual School Nutrition Expo on Wednesday at Humble Civic Center. The event featured more than 130 food and equipment vendors, making it the largest in the program’s history.

“We’re proud to see this event growing so that we can continue to give students and nutrition directors broader choices that meet all guidelines and taste great,” said Trisha Jensen, assistant director, HCDE Choice Partners.

More than 230 students from area school districts showed up to taste-test foods, letting school district nutrition directors know selections they preferred for the school cafeteria menu. Students came from Katy, Spring Branch, Columbia-Brazoria, Galena Park, Crosby and Cleveland.

“I come every year to find out about new products,” said Gail Stotler, nutrition director, Fort Bend ISD. Stotler added that this year she sampled some new chicken products that “look very good.”

D’gusto Foods sent a representative for the second year in a row, this time to debut its new line of empanadas in corn dough. Oscar Velsasquez, CEO, D’gusto Food said: “I came to introduce a new product: the empanadas, which come in beef, chicken and veggie.”

New products on display also included the “Selfie Pizza” from Alpha Foods, a locally-owned company based in Waller, Texas. Tasty Brands, a supplier of great-tasting school food that meets USDA regulations, also showcased its new mini ravioli dish.

As school nutrition directors evaluated quality, nutritional value and student tastes, Choice Partners gathered info needed to plan for future food contract purchases for school districts. Food is purchased annually by school districts in the Harris County area for more than 100 million student lunches through contracts available through HCDE Choice Partners cooperative.

Choice Partners next event, its annual Vendor Exhibit featuring a variety of facilities, technology, supplies and services vendors, will take place from 10 a.m to 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, at Norris Events Center at City Centre. For more information about Choice Partners, go to .

About Harris County Department of Education: HCDE provides special education, therapy services, early education, adult education and after-school programming. Services are funded by government grants, fees and a local property tax rate of $.005195. For every dollar in local property tax collected, HCDE provides $4.40 in services to the 25 Harris County school districts. HCDE also operates four campuses for students with profound special education needs and adjudicated youth who require a low student-teacher ratio and highly structured environment. One-hundred percent of students served on HCDE campuses are at-risk. The organization is governed by an elected board of seven trustees and has 1,060 employees and 33 facilities, including 15 Head Start centers. More info at

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