If you were to google “school lunches around the world” you would see a vast difference between what we serve here in America versus what every other country is serving to their students. With that being said, the photos of American lunches typically don’t depict every single lunch here in the states. It’s safe to say those lunches from Spain and Italy might not be a completely accurate representation of their lunches either. Even still, our chicken nugget lunches are the butt of the joke when compared to other countries.
We can’t win the internet’s war on our lunches, but we can tackle it to the best of our abilities. If it’s international lunches people want, let’s give it to them! America is a melting pot of different cultures, so why not celebrate these cultures in our schools?
Benefits of Diversity
Internet searches aside, there are great benefits to bringing diverse menus into your cafeterias.
This gives your students an opportunity to get them talking about different cultures and traditions from around the globe all within your cafeteria.
Teachers can bring this back into the classroom as a learning activity.
Having a wide range of options will encourage many of your students to stay on campus rather than go home during lunch.
Think of all the kids who would prefer to eat a meal during lunch similar to ones they have at home. Kids know what’s familiar to them! Instead of going off campus for those meals, students have that option to get them at school. Now you have more students participating in your nutrition program, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone!
Providing an array of diverse meal options will encourage your students to embrace the diversity around them.
America is a melting pot remember? Not only will you encourage students to embrace other cultures, but this will help ensure all students feel equal.
Make It Happen!
Now you’re probably wondering how on earth this would even be possible. That’s a lot of food! You can’t possibly serve a meal representing every country to your students every day. Well of course not. That’s an unrealistic expectation. Let’s break it down into three ways you can bring diversity into your cafeterias.
1. Offer different foods on different days
Many schools are already doing something along the lines of this. Taco Tuesday would be a good example of this. However, maybe Taco Tuesday is a little bit outdated. Spice things up with a different kind of theme, like “Around the World Wednesday” where you could serve a different internationally inspired dish each Wednesday for example! Still sounding impossible? It’s not. With proper menu planning and production software, you should have no problem duplicating your menu cycles so that you don’t find yourself doing repetitive work.
2. Separate your serving lines
Keep one or two serving lines dedicated to your international dishes. Of course, don’t worry about your POS terminals getting cluttered with several buttons containing menu items you won’t even use. With a top of the line POS app like ExpressPoint, you’ll be able to keep your lines running quickly and smoothly!
3. Ask your students and their parents what they want to see
This sounds like a daunting enough task in it of itself. Though it doesn’t have to be. With tools like SchoolCafé, districts can create polls to engage parents and students and encourage them to become a part of the menu planning process. Maybe you’ll find that Taco Tuesday isn’t so dated after all? You’ll never know if you don’t ask!
Alex Szoeke has served as a Marketing Specialist at PrimeroEdge for over 2 years. She has previously worked in the foodservice industry as both a server and supervisor, having earned her ServSafe Managers Certification in 2015. She received her bachelor's degree in Corporate Communications from the University of Houston and later completed a 6-month Full Stack Web Development Bootcamp through the University of Texas.