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A Collaboration for Cultural Dishes
Rochester Public Schools

Our Rochester community is rich with cultural backgrounds and full of diversity. Standard lunch menus reflect traditional American food like hamburgers and potato smiles. But what happens when you change the menus to reflect the diversity of our students, staff, and community members?

 

Student Nutrition Services (SNS) at RPS is on a mission to offer more unique menu items that reflect the diversity of our Rochester community and have meaning to staff and students.

In Fall of 2019, SNS Chef Travis Pearce worked with Maya Ramnivas, SNS staff member at Mayo High School, to create several recipes rich in new flavors and cultural backgrounds to serve our students. Since then, Maya has introduced dishes such as Chicken Tikka Masala and developed a chicken-vegetable stirfry served at our secondary schools.

Maya Ramnivas, originally from India, loves to cook. Outside of her job in Student Nutrition Services, Maya co-owns local restaurant, Royal Indian Cuisine, with her husband. Chicken Tikka Masala was selected for our high school students because of its popularity at their restaurant. 

When taking on a cultural dish, SNS believes in keeping meals as authentic as possible. To embrace this, RPS partnered with Maya and her restaurant staff to learn how to prepare the meal correctly, and Royal Indian Cuisine provided the Naan bread. "We must make food from other cultures within our school district because we can introduce new foods to students," Maya shared. "There are a lot of students that may be missing the food from their home country."

Not only do these collaborations allow staff to share their passions and culture, but as Maya said, these meals may serve as a comfort to some of our students. And for our other students, they get to experience something new and expand their palates. 

When taking on a cultural dish, SNS believes in keeping meals as authentic as possible. To embrace this, RPS partnered with Maya and her restaurant staff to learn how to prepare the meal correctly, and Royal Indian Cuisine provided the Naan bread. 

Looking ahead, RPS is planning to introduce a Somalian menu for elementary schools in December, featuring Hoyo sambusas made by Somali Mothers Crafting Family Recipes out of Bloomington. We look forward to following these collaborations, and of course, tasting some delicious food.