“This is a generation that knows – and orders – menu items like baba ghanouj, tiramisu, pad Thai and empanadas,” remarks Sharon Olson, co-founder of Y-Pulse, which maintains offices in Chicago and Alexandria, Virginia. “Through this survey, we learned that they are interested in having a broader variety of authentic ethnic foods as choices for school meals.”
Beyond citing specific dishes they would like served up in their “dream kitchen,” such as wonton soup, Japanese sushi, hummus, quesadillas and calamari, to name a few, many young respondents indicated they would like to see a regular cross-cultural mix of items on their school foodservice menu. “One student requested that their cafeteria include four different sections devoted to authentic regional dishes, including Chinese, Italian, Mexican and traditional American,” reports Tami Cline, co-founder of Y-Pulse. “Another envisioned a ‘World Wonder’ cart that would rotate multicultural foods such as Swedish meatballs and Indian fare. These and many other answers show there is a strong exposure to global cuisines that can be successfully tapped in the school foodservice setting."
According to Cline, school foodservice operators can expand the global flair of the foods they serve, and along with it, their patrons’ palates and education. “Creating authentic ethnic dishes doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. It can be as simple as buying and using different types of spices and seasonings or not being afraid to try out ideas on this receptive demographic,” she points out. “The beauty of it is that there is literally a whole world of alternatives when it comes to authentic ethnic cuisine.”