Now Boarding: Chartwells K12 Takes Students on a Food Adventure with New ‘Global Eats’ Program
Leave the bags at home, kids can explore diverse cultures and cuisines and learn from celebrity chefs from the comfort of their school cafeteria.
The school cafeteria is often one of the first places a child gets to taste and learn about foods from outside their family’s recipes or traditional cultural dishes. Highlighting the unique ingredients and authentic flavors from cuisines around the world, Chartwells K12 has launched a new program called “Global Eats,” bringing a world of flavors to school cafeterias across the country. The program invites K-12 students on a food exploration that celebrates cultural heritages, traveling first through China, India, Italy, and Mexico. This Fall, Global Eats is taking off in elementary, middle and high schools, including those in Ridgefield School District (Wash.), North Brunswick Township Public Schools (N.J.) and Lincoln County R-III School District (Mo.).
“Global Eats prioritizes what kids want – connection with others, a healthy planet and adventure,” said Belinda Oakley, CEO, Chartwells K12. “We’re in a unique position where we have a front-row seat to the evolving preferences of kids, which allows us to continue building fun, educational, food-focused programs that create deeper bonds between classmates and friends – it’s how we’re making sure students leave the cafeteria happier and healthier than they came in.”
Chartwells K12 chefs and dietitians, with input from students, developed Global Eats to turn food into a worldly adventure and encourage students to eat together and taste new foods and flavors while learning about different cultures.
The unique ingredients and traditions of various cultures incorporated into school meals keeps menus and lunchtime exciting, reflecting authentic recipes created in partnership with a series of celebrity chefs who specialize in global cuisines. This year, Global Eats makes “stops” at four different countries, including:
- China: Celebrity Chef Jet Tila created signature menu items for Global Eats that bring a sensory experience filled with the flavors of ginger, soy and chilis, including “Sichuan Style” Mapo Tofu, Dan Dan Noodles and Char Siu Pork.
- India: Delicious dishes including Tandoori Chicken, Beef Kofta Curry and Sweet Potato & Spinach Vindaloo, from Chef Aarti Sequeira, cookbook author and the winner of the sixth season of The Next Food Network Star, will be offered on the Global Eats menu.
- Italy: Kids taste authentic Italian cuisine like Penne Pasta with Chicken all’ Arrabbiata, Baked Cod “Cacciatore Style” and Brussel Sprouts “Cacio e Pepe.” Michael Toscano, the Chef/Owner of Le Farfalle in Charleston, South Carolina and Da Toscano in New York City, collaborated on each recipe that will be featured.
- Mexico: Dishes are simple yet packed with fresh flavors like lime and cilantro and the heat of peppers and spices. Chicago-based Chef Jonathan Zaragoza, whose family owns Birrieria Zaragoza, helped develop the menu which includes Pozole, Albondigas con Arroz and Elotes.
“I love introducing my kids to new flavors and foods, but even more, I love talking with them about what they liked and want to keep trying more of,” said Chef Tila. “With Global Eats, we’re using the power of food to connect kids with different ethnic heritages and flavors, make their relationship with food more purposeful and take the cafeteria experience to the next level.”
In addition to new menu items for breakfast and lunch, Chartwells K12 has created a fun and engaging educational program packed with chef demonstrations, tastings, videos, activities, and give-aways. Elementary school students will fill Global Eats passports with stickers as they learn about food and traditions from different countries, while high schoolers will learn how different geographies and cultures influence a country’s food preferences and popular ingredients. The exploration continues beyond the cafeteria with the Global Eats website, www.k12globaleats.com, which features recipe videos, reading recommendations and fun activities for students, families and educators alike.
“Growing up in Dubai, all my friends were from all over the world, which meant when I went over to their homes for dinner, I got to learn and understand their culture and heritage in an active, fun and delicious way! I’m so excited about Global Eats! We get to offer that same experience to our next generation, which is vital because I firmly believe that when we break bread together, we knit our spirits together too,” said Chef Sequeira.
Global Eats joins the long list of innovative programs Chartwells K12 has brought to its network of schools. Discovery Kitchen, Student Choice, and Mood Boost, which was named Food Management magazine’s Best Management Company Concept Award in 2020, among many other efforts, are part of how Chartwells K12 and its partners are transforming the school dining experience and changing the way a generation thinks about food.