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Patterson Students Help Introduce Walking Tacos

June 14, 2023 - All of us can probably remember what hot lunch items were our favorite back when we were in school - maybe it was pizza or chicken nuggets or cheeseburgers. But did any of us actually have a hand in influencing what was on the school lunch menu? A trio of sixth-grade friends at Patterson Elementary School can claim just that after successfully advocating to bring “walking tacos” to school lunch menus this spring. 

It all started when Grayson C. invited Jackson R. to attend a neighborhood party with him and one of the food options was a walking taco. For those unfamiliar with this culinary delight, it consists of opening an individually-packaged bag of tortilla chips and adding all of the toppings you would normally put in a taco shell or tortilla to the bag, then eating it out of the bag with a fork. 

“We thought this was a unique and fun food,” Grayson explains, “and we wanted to see if we could get it for our school.” 

Grayson and Jackson initially approached their principal, Jamie Lentz, about the idea on the playground. She encouraged them to email her and request a time to meet and discuss their ideas with her. Some time passed and she hadn’t heard from them. But then, at the urging of another of their friends - Eli P. - the boys did reach out to Ms. Lentz to follow up. 

By the time they met with her, the boys had created a poster detailing their request and upon which they gathered 104 signatures from classmates and teachers alike. They also capitalized on a persuasive writing assignment from their teacher,Mr. Kreisher, to describe why they believed their school would benefit from adding walking tacos to the lunch menu. 

In that initial meeting, the boys learned more about who makes the decisions for school lunches, and it wasn’t Ms. Lentz or Hillsboro’s Mayor, as they had originally thought. It is Nathan Roedel, Executive Director of Nutrition Services for the District. 

Their second meeting included Mr. Roedel and the boys pitched their idea to him. He helped explain even more about the guidelines for school meals, how the ingredients are sourced from vendors in bulk, and how pricing and supply chain issues can sometimes dictate what choices are made. 

Mr. Roedel and his team had looked at the possibility of bringing a similar item to schools in the past, but at the time it wasn’t feasible based on pricing and availability of needed ingredients.

This time when he looked into it, however, it was something he was able to make happen. The first walking tacos appeared on middle and high school menus earlier this spring, but because there are so many more elementary schools than secondary schools, Mr. Roedel was uncertain as to whether he would be able to bring it to any elementary schools before the fall. 

Ultimately, he was able to deliver for Patterson Elementary (and the rest of HSD’s elementary schools) and allow Grayson, Jackson, and Eli the opportunity to benefit from the fruits - or should we say chips? - of their labor before they exited sixth grade. 

The first “Taco Tuesday” with the walking tacos took place on Tuesday, June 6 and the number of meals served went through the roof! The second walking tacos offering on June 13 was just as successful. 

When asked what the boys learned from their experience, they shared the following:

Jackson: “It was fun to learn how the system works and what it takes to make a menu.”

Grayson: “If you want something to get done, you need to do it. If you’re serious, you have to put in the work.” 

Eli: “Never give up on a dream.”

Way to go, Grayson, Jackson, and Eli! Your methodical and mature approach to bringing an idea to fruition is inspiring and the experience will benefit you for years to come. You make us Proud to be HSD!