Restaurant chef brings cajun cuisine to school lunch

Chefs Move to Schools partnership brings new flavors to students.

Feb. 14—Chef Charles Gilliam, owner of  Okra’s Louisiana Bistro in old town Manassas, thought developing a menu for school students would be a piece of cake. But things were a little harder than he expected.

“They have a tight budget they have to work with, and unfortunately they have really, really tight restrictions for what they’re able to do to put together the food for the kids,” Gilliam said.

But Gilliam hasn’t given up. He’s been working with the school system since last year as part of First lady Michelle Obama’s “Chefs Move to Schools” program, which is run through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to help chefs partner with schools to create healthy meals. On Friday, Gilliam introduced the first menu item of red beans and rice, maquechoux and corn bread to the students at Metz Middle School, with much success.

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The University of Maryland will begin offering weekly specials at all of its dining halls this semester, The Diamond Back reports.

The weekday specials will allow Dining Services to offer past menu items that students miss as well as new dishes students have been requesting, according to a spokesperson.

Students can find out which specials are being offered each week via dining hall table tents as well as through Dining Services’ social media. During select weeks, the specials may reflect a particular theme, such as Taste of the South.

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