Korean School Lunches Coming to One NJ Town

Korean food being offered at Palisades Park Jr/Sr High School in New Jersey in 2012. A new program will offer Korean lunch choices once a week to elementary students in Palisades Park. (Photo via The Korea Times)

Korean food being offered at Palisades Park Jr./Sr. High School in New Jersey in 2012. A new program will offer Korean lunch choices once a week to elementary students in Palisades Park. (Photo via The Korea Times)

Korean food is going to be provided at a public elementary school in Palisades Park, New Jersey, beginning this fall.

In New York and New Jersey, it is the first time that Korean food has been selected for a public school lunch. [Representatives of] the Korean Cuisine Globalization Committee, a nonprofit organization of Korean restaurants and related businesses that promotes healthful Korean cuisine, visited Lindbergh Elementary School on April 14, and revealed that the committee had reached an agreement with school and city officials to offer Korean food at the school cafeteria once a week beginning in September.

The Korean Cuisine Globalization Committee is going to research students’ menu preferences by offering Korean food for free on a trial basis in early June. So far, bulgogi, japchae, kimchi and white kimchi are most likely to be chosen.

An estimated 200 to 300 students out of 800 students are expected to want Korean food at the school. Even though the Korean Cuisine Globalization Committee will prepare the dishes and supply them to the school’s catering company at the outset, the committee will study how the food may be prepared in the school’s kitchen later on.

“We feel great about taking the first step in a Korean food project [we believe is] meaningful for growing students… The Korean Food Foundation (a foundation under the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs that is created for the promotion and expansion of Korean food) and the Korean Cuisine Globalization Committee will make progress on this long-term project together,” Kim Young Hwan, president of the Korean Cuisine Globalization Committee said.

After striving to have Korean food served for school lunch for three years, the Korean Cuisine Globalization Committee received support from the Korean Food Foundation this year. Currently, a meal for one student at Lindbergh Elementary School costs $2.35. Support from the Korean Food Foundation is essential to serving Korean food, for which ingredients are relatively costly. Because of that, some point out that a system needs to be developed for offering Korean food at schools on a regular basis.

Because the committee prepares the food under the current system, cooking costs a lot and the number of schools that can be provided with Korean food is limited. Another structural limit is that offering Korean food for school lunches will be stopped when the support from the Korean Food Foundation ends. Regarding this problem, an unidentified worker from Palisades Park said, “So that this is not a short-term project, the Korean Food Foundation as well as the Korean Cuisine Globalization Committee should put a lot of effort into [the project] and make evaluations.”

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