'Texture and flavor': Durham Public Schools launching culturally rich lunch menus

Akilah Davis Image
Thursday, July 28, 2022
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Durham Public Schools will begin serving up culture and tradition with new meal options based on different cultural backgrounds.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham Public Schools is tackling social justice through its lunch menu. The district will begin serving up culture and tradition to students such as 10-year-old Sylas McCoy, who is tasting some of the new meal options.

"The texture and the flavor. It reminds me of my mom's food. A little bit of my grandma's," he said.

Traditional school is not in session yet, but McCoy was the only student testing out foods slated for the lunch menu this fall.

His mother is DPS Food Service Coordinator Brittany McCoy. She wanted his voice at the table since he is the target consumer. McCoy is hoping to educate and entice students while offering something for everyone.

"We'll have days geared toward our Hispanic population or Asian population. Even our Southern home-cooked meal population. We also want to offer options for vegetarians," she said.

On Thursday, Durham Public Schools held a taste-testing for staffers at Fayetteville Street Elementary. The district is working to make the foods students eat culturally inclusive and reflective of its student population, which is made up mostly of Blacks and other ethnic minorities.

"I think DPS gets it," said Dr. Linden Thayer, Assistant Director for Food Systems Planning. "School food service was dominated by a White narrative about what is good food. And so we have to break those norms and understandings and move into a space where we can talk about how there is good foods in all cultures."

She explained that everyone benefits from bringing different cultures to the lunch table. Students like fifth-grader Sylas can't wait for his friends to experience it.

"I would say, hey, I tried out this new food and I was on the news. It was really good," he said.