An Intercultural Food Festival was held at Oxford High School (OHS) last Tuesday, which featured authentic Indian, Chinese, Mexican and Italian cuisines for students.
Everything from classic nachos to Indian curry to whole grain pizza was served to Oxford students along with exchange students who were visiting from the district’s sister schools located in Mexico and India.
“The event was a huge success,” said Nutrition Services Director Karen Bissett. “The students really liked mixing it up and trying something different and we were happy to be able to offer that. A lot of students had said that they wouldn’t have had an opportunity to try that kind of food, especially the curry… It was really amazing. Some of the kids wanted samples. Other kids were really into it and wanted a full meal. It was a great experience being able to celebrate different cultures. It was a great opportunity for them to try new things.”
Although the school’s official Intercultural Food Festival was held on October 24, Bissett said the Oxford Schools lunch program consistently strives to offer a wide variety of international cuisine options to Oxford students, particularly at the high school and middle school levels.
Regularly offered dishes at the high school include traditional fajitas, stir-fry, and Italian pasta dishes.
“We are constantly working on new recipes,” Bissett added. “After researching the curry that we served Tuesday and seeing how many of the students liked it, we’re looking at authentic Indian recipes and plan to formulate the recipes to fit our guidelines so that we can make it in-house regularly. We’ll just keep looking at “what’s next,” and keep working with our students and (International Director Chunchun Tang) to expand the lunch program.”
According to Bissett, the district has been working to expand its cuisine options over the last five years.
That work would appear to be paying off, as Oxford Schools’ lunch program was recently noted for its use of international flavors in its menu and referenced in a press release by the School Nutrition Association (SNA).
The SNA is a national, nonprofit organization representing more than 57,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country.
Last December, a daily stir-fry station, with four induction cookers, was added to the OHS cafeteria– allowing students to create their own cooked-to-order stir fry dishes.
Students can pick from 13 different items for their stir fry, including fresh ingredients like shredded carrots, spinach, water chestnuts, broccoli, green and red peppers, mushrooms, edamame and pineapple.
Students can also choose between beef or chicken for their stir fry with noodles or rice as the base and can choose between eight low-sodium sauces.
The line serves between 140-160 students daily, according to Bissett, and has quickly become one of the school’s most popular lines.
“The line has been such a success. The kids are really enjoying it and we’ve loved being able to offer them more choices and flavors. We want to keep offering even more options in the future,” Bissett said.