Every month CentroNía’s early learners and staff travels around the globe to sample the delicious flavors of another country during International Day. CentroNía’s Food and Wellness department celebrates the diversity of its community by incorporating the recipes and cultural flavors from the many nationalities represented in the CentroNía community. The idea originated last year from Patricia Montoya, the NíaCentral Catering Coordinator and Nutritionist, as an initiative to inspire new recipes and taste new flavors. Whether it’s sampling bulgogi beef from South Korea or traditional Spanish paella, International Day is introducing the community to new flavors while also allowing lunch to become an exciting new learning opportunity for early learners.

“We sample various food cultures from different countries, cook with new ingredients, and celebrate diversity” said Patricia Montoya. “We are glad to share this exciting dishes with the CentroNía community and those who receive catering services from NíaCentral.”

NíaCentral Catering is a new business serving childcare centers and schools in the District of Columbia. Created by CentroNía, a distinguished non-profit with over 30 years of experience in early childhood education, NíaCentral Catering provides the same award-winning, healthy food that it has been serving CentroNía’s children for over a decade to more than 7 centers and schools in the region. The business was established to ensure more young children have access to fresh, tasty and nourishing meals that enhances their development and helps them to establish lifelong healthy habits.

In order to accomplish International Day, the CentroNía’s Food and Wellness team researches cultural dishes, asks for input from staff and parent backgrounds, and seeks guidance from online recipes. The kitchen must then adapt the recipe to maintain the integrity and authenticity of the dish while also incorporating the nutritional components of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Once this piece is done, the team creates a flyer with background information about the country, it’s cuisine, and the featured dish.

Food education is an important aspect of International Day as it creates an opportunity for teachers to build lessons around the lunch table – an important aspect of CentroNía’s nutrition education curriculum for early learners, ROOTS: Cultivating Healthy Habits from the Start. Lessons like these are important in teaching cultural competency while also demonstrating how food is beneficial to our bodies. The lunch room is a critical opportunity to teach children healthy habits. CentroNía’s ROOTS curriculum provides early childhood educators the necessary tools to cultivate healthy habits at a young age in their classroom while also offering activities for parents and/or adult caregivers. Through these lessons the whole family can begin to understand the importance of healthy habits – at school AND in their homes.

International Day at CentroNía showcases cultural diversity in our meals and demonstrates the similarities in ingredients and tastes all over the world. CentroNía will continue to cherish and celebrate its multicultural community with simple, tasteful and easy-to-make recipes for early learners and their families.

Some of our International Day menu items in the past:

  • April 2017: Spain – Paella
  • May 2017: Dominican Republic – Arroz con gandules
  • September 2017: Ukraine – Zucchini & Beef Patties with buckwheat and barley
  • October 2017: Nepal – Nepali Chicken Fried Rice
  • November 2017: Turkey – Marinated Yogurt Lemon Chicken
  • December 2017: Morocco – Moroccan Pumpkin Couscous
  • January 2018: Brazil – Feijao Tropeiro (Beef sausage and collard greens)
  • February 2018: Mexico – Chicken Tinga Tostada
  • March 2018: South Korea – Bulgogi with rice noodles