The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Ethnic Dishes – A Hot Trend in School Cafeterias

Ethnic Dishes – A Hot Trend in School Cafeterias

Health and Wellness

April 29, 2012

by Diane Pratt-Heavner, Director of Media Relations, SNA

As America’s schools welcome students from a wider range of cultural backgrounds, school cafeterias have introduced new ethnic dishes that cater to students’ diversity and allow kids to sample nutritious foods from around the world.

recent survey from the School Nutrition Association shows a growing prevalence of ethnic food choices in school cafeterias, with most schools offering Mexican and Asian dishes, and many experimenting with Middle Eastern, Greek, Kosher/Halal and Indian foods.

Just last month, students in Miami-Dade County Public Schools were invited to choose from Teriyaki Chicken with Lo Mein Noodles; Curry Chicken Salad; Black Beans & Rice Bowls and Cuban-style Roast Pork. The district offers a wide range of Hispanic dishes throughout the year, including Arroz Con Pollo and Picadillo with Rice and Plantains.

Ethnic recipes provide schools with delicious ways to meet new nutrition standardsrequiring cafeterias to serve a wider range of vegetables. Wayzata Public Schools’(Minnesota) Spicy Lemon Chicken Stir Fry offers both taste appeal and a rainbow of produce with broccoli, carrot strips, green beans, crisp water chestnuts, onions and julienned red bell peppers stir-fried and tossed with white meat chicken and a spicy Kung Pao-inspired glaze.

Some school districts also use their ethnic menus to promote cultural awareness. Learn more about the Ethnic Food Project in Highline Public Schools, Washington in this month’s Tray Talk video.