By JAMES STITT firstname.lastname@example.org
When Lily Capaul learned the school cafeteria would soon be offering soup for lunch, the Le Center Elementary fourth-grader couldn’t contain her excitement, offering a definitive fist-pump at the news.
“It’s awesome,” said Capaul. “The food is awesome.”
Soup is just one of the changes in Tri-City United cafeterias this school year.
Since September, Taher, a professional food service management company, has brought a wide variety of menu options to TCU. And that’s something Le Center Elementary students say they definitely enjoy.
Taher offers the students several choices for their lunch, including multiple main entrees, salads, sandwiches, and a fruit and vegetable bar. While Taher offers options that the kids are used to like chicken nuggets and hamburgers, it also serves items like orange chicken and parmesan crusted fish not often found in school cafeteria trays.
The entrees Taher prepares are inspired by foods from every corner of the world. A council of Taher chefs travel the world looking for new ideas and have been to places like India, Morocco, Japan, Vietnam, Peru and much more searching for local foods.
They visit with various food vendors and farmers to discover what their traditional dishes are. And then the chefs redesign the meals to serve them to the students.
“It lets the kids travel by their plate,” said TCU Food Service Director Amy Sauter.
And while some menu options are inspired by places far away, others are picked by TCU students. The food service staff listens to the wants and needs of the students, working to create the best meal options for everyone.
“We are trying to listen to what they like,” said Sauter.
Sauter said that they have met with the Student Council a couple of times to hear what the students want in their cafeteria. Some of the requests were for juice and soups.
And though there are many more options for students to choose from, some of the favorites are simple classics. Sauter said that one of the favorites are the salads that are offered.
“The kids are really liking the salads,” said Sauter.
Fourth-grader Melissa Barrientos said that she likes all of the options that are served now with the new food management company.
“We have fruits, and we have salads,” she said, echoing what Sauter said the kids have requested.
Even with all of the options, Barrientos knows her favorite, which is the spaghetti.
Taher uses homemade cooking and fresh produce to create a better meal for students. Menus revolved around on what fruits and vegetables are in season, so the fruits and vegetables are fresh and ripe, which also gives a bit of variety for what the students eat.
The kids have seemed to notice the changes in what is being served, and like the homemade meals. Once a month a dessert is offered to celebrate all of the students with birthdays that month. And on Friday, students were happy to grab the homemade cookies being handed out.
“We are big on homemade,” said Sauter.