American high schools are increasingly serving food from around the world in order to keep up with the country's diversifying population. The School Nutrition Association says two-thirds of schools serve Asian food, about a quarter offer Kosher dishes and more than 20 percent sell Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine to students. The group says food from Latin America is the most popular, with Mexican meals now served in more than 98 percent of school districts in the United States. Steve Mort visited a school in Florida that has diversified its menu to meet demand.
Lunchtime at University High School in Orlando. Students here choose from a wide range of international dishes such as lo mein noodles or Montego Bay chicken.
|Lunchtime at University High School in Orlando|
Lora Gilbert is in charge of food and nutrition for the school district. She says, "If you go to the mall and you look around to see where the students are eating -- they're eating at the Asian places and they're eating at the places were they can get a great Caribbean sauce."
A chef hands out samples to University High students. This school, like many others, has carried out detailed research into student tastes, conducting focus groups to find out what the students like to eat.
Gilbert says she has found that immigrant students want food from their native countries. "Those students brought a lot of those foods over with them, so we're seeing that reflected in what the kids tell us."
In addition to Latin and Asian food, the School Nutrition Association says some cafeterias are adding Indian, Thai and Somali recipes.
Students appear to welcome the variety. Student Samantha Carrions says, "Normally you go to a different school and they're like, 'school lunch sucks.' But this year is truly amazing, I can tell you that."
Another student, Yoel Altomonte, says, "I'm not coming to school and eating junk. I'm having good food and I'm getting what my body needs."
Officials claim success in efforts to cater to the students' taste for foreign food. Statistics from the school district that includes Orlando show that the consumption of school meals has increased by 10 percent over the last year.