Food Culture Fridays

Looking to add some culture into your school or program?  I see a lot of teachers requesting ideas on this very topic all over social media. Food Culture Fridays is a way to not only add some culture by way of different foods to your school and student body, but it’s a great way to connect your students to the cafeteria staff,  who often go unnoticed. Read on to learn more about how you can expose your students to some delicious and diverse foods every month!


  • Intro: If you could add one ethnic dish to the school lunch menu, what would it be? Complete the “Thin Slide” by adding the name and picture of the food, country of origin and your name. Be prepared to share a bit later.
  • Discuss: Suppose you were a foreign exchange student in a new country, going to a new school for the year or perhaps your family moved across the globe to a new country on a new continent. Would you long for some “American” food from your homeland? Would you wish the cafeteria at your new school occasionally served you a familiar US meal?
  • That is how many students who move to the US and attend schools across the country feel. They long for a meal that reminds them of their heritage, their culture, their homeland.


  • iPads or Laptops
  • Projector & Screen


  • Before reading the NEWSELA article, you will need to go to the website and create a teacher account. They’ve changed their website and you must now have an account to access most of the content.  The sign up and basic account are free.
  • Read the NEWSELA article titled, “Maine school offers African-inspired meal options to students”. Ask students to respond to the following questions and prompts.
    • Do you think our school offers a culturally diverse lunch menu? Explain why or why not.
    • Do you think our student body would be open to sampling and evaluating some culturally diverse meals that could potentially end up on the school menu?
    • Ask students to share their “Thin Slide” responses from earlier.
  • Assign students a region or country and then have them complete the Flash Slide Research for their assigned region or country for that week/month
    • Latin America (October)
    • Caribbean (November)
    • Thailand (January)
    • Greece (February)
    • Korea (March)
    • India (April)
  • Step 1: Using the internet and the assigned region or county, individually, create a single flash slide that includes answers to the following:
      • Name of the region or country and an image of the map or flag
      • Include 5 traditional foods that influence the main dishes of this culture’s cuisine
      • Include 5 significant flavors (herbs/spices) that influence this culture’s cuisine
    • Once the flash slides are completed, students will have 5-8 minutes to “share” their findings with their lab group to see the similarities and differences discovered. Students will then share as a class a master list will be created via board or screen.
  • Step 2: Share the National School Lunch Program criteria with students so they know the requirements schools must adhere to by law.
    • **By law, school meals must be based on the goals of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Therefore, the school meal nutrition standards require schools to offer students the right balance of fruits, vegetables, low-fat or fat-free milk, whole grains, and protein foods. There are five required food components at lunch; fruits, vegetables, meat/meat alternate, grains and milk. Sponsors must plan lunch menus using the age/grade groups K-5, 6-8, K-8 and 9-12.
  • Step 3: Each student will research recipes and choose one per group member that meet the school meal criteria** and are easy to replicate (ingredients need to be available for purchase in our area). No duplicates so you must communicate with your group.
    • Once you have selected your individual recipes, you must create a visual of how the foods (recipe) fit into MyPlate and explanations of how the 2020-2025 Dietary Guideline requirements are met. Visuals can be created  using any of the following platforms: Canva, Google Slides or Docs or Adobe and attaching the finished product to Google Classroom.
  • Step 4: Again, students will get into their lab groups and share the recipes they selected and prepared visuals around. Students will rank their choices from first choice to last choice.
    • Using the “Wheel of Names” generator, lab groups will randomly get to select the recipe they wish to make in the lab for the taste test fair, hence the need for the ranking as duplications are not permitted.
    • Once the recipes are selected, students begin creating their display board to be used during the taste test fair along with the Google Survey questions/prompts which they must collaborate with the cafeteria staff to determine what needs to be included. See the guide sheet for specific criteria.
    • When the survey is ready to go, students will create a QR Code that will be printed and attached to their visual for evaluation purposes during the fair.
      Note: not all students will be willing to sample the food, so only those willing to sample the food will complete the Google Form survey.
  • Step 5: Prepare the food for the taste test fair. and offer it up in sample portions.
  • Step 6: Set up the display boards and offer foods prepared up in sample portions for the Taste Test Fair.
    • Results of the evaluations will be shared with the cafeteria staff who will determine which cultural food recipe/dish will be shared on the Food Culture Friday of that month.
    • The process will be repeated for the next food culture month with a new region or country.


  • This is a dilemma or problem based assignment, therefore, your school may or may not wish to implement the school-wide taste test portion of this assignment. If that is the case, students can eliminate the display board and just prepare the selected recipes in their labs and evaluate them via the google form survey among themselves. You could even eliminate the survey altogether if desired.
  • Another option is to have this be tied to food trucks or food competitions and invite faculty and staff in to sample the foods and complete the taste test evaluations. Prizes or accolades could be awarded to the winning dish!
  • Because there are so many regions and countries to choose from, this could be an ongoing assignment, lab and/or competition to introduce culturally diverse foods to your students.


Photo by cottonbro studio

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.