From K-12 through college, in-school dining is focused on providing bright, fresh and flavor-forward options for students who are increasingly food savvy; they crave global flavors, care about where their food comes from and expect high quality and customizable choices. This growing demand spans all age groups: according to a 2014 survey by Y-Pulse, “Today’s college-age consumers are more diverse and aware of global cultures and cuisines than any previous generation. Yet even 58 percent of K-12 foodservice directors say that almost all of their students expect to see ethnic foods on the menu regardless of their ethnic background.”
Bold, fresh flavors
Low-cost, value driven menus and bold, fresh flavors don’t need to be mutually exclusive. “Non-commercial foodservice players are looking to other segments like fast-casual to adopt best practices,” says Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic Inc. On the front end, this means a push for high-quality, seasonal choices from a global table with an emphasis on freshness and a healthy halo. On the back end, this means implementing fast-casual practices like value-added ingredients and streamlined service formats that keep a lid on labor costs and reduce inventory.
As seen on the streets on Brazil
Global street food, like Brazilian tapioca offers an opportunity to meet students’ nutritional needs with on-trend and crave worthy options. It can be stuffed with a variety of sweet and savory fillings; everything from cheese and shredded beef to coconut and fresh fruit. Gluten-free, vegan, fat-free; it’s inexpensive and simple to prepare. The recipe featured here puts a Mediterranean twist on the South American classic, blending it with spinach and stuffing with tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini and a tangy Greek yogurt olive spread.
An increasingly popular opportunity, global carriers like naan, telera rolls and tortillas are widely available and can be cross-utilized for a variety of wraps and sandwiches. Ancient grains like kamut, quinoa and farro boost nutritional profiles and can be incorporated into salads featuring lean proteins and fresh or grilled vegetables. Classic fusion dishes—like the Hawaiian Loco Moco—score bonus points when they’re streamlined with on-hand inventory. In this case, rice is topped with a burger patty, brown mushroom gravy and a pre-cooked fried egg, making it a fast and filling breakfast or lunch option with labor-saving ingredients that are easy to pull through the rest of the menu.
Lemony Arugula Pesto Chicken Naanwich
Tender chicken breast slices tossed with bright, citrusy pesto fill toothsome, chewy naan bread. Crisp red peppers, pickled carrots and Monterey Jack cheese provide contrasting textures, flavors and visual appeal.
Greek Spinach Tapioca
Brazilian-style tapioca crepe, infused with spinach purée, folded over tender sautéed mushrooms, zucchini, cauliflower, Roma tomato and a tangy Greek yogurt and feta spread with chopped kalamata olives.
Curry Chicken Quinoa Salad
Earthy ancient grains meet a robust mix of lemony arugula, chicken, cauliflower, carrots, Brussel sprouts, grapes, apples and curry yogurt dressing in this powerhouse salad that’s chock full of bright flavors and lots of textural interest.
Hawaiian Loco Moco
This classic Hawaiian lunch plate makes a satisfying breakfast too—a burger patty over rice, smothered in mushroom beef gravy and topped with a fried egg. We’ve swapped out the traditional white rice for a flavorful blend of basmati and red quinoa for a boost of whole grains and even bigger flavor.