School discovers ethnic diversity through food festival
November 19, 2013
By Neil Pierson
The families who are part of the Discovery Elementary School community are ethnically diverse.
The school with an enrollment of about 630 is comprised of nearly 50 percent minorities, and more than 40 percent of the student body is of Asian heritage.
That seemingly made Discovery the perfect place for an ethnic food festival, and there was a huge turnout Nov. 6, when the school hosted its free “Taste of Discovery” event.
“Last year, we took a break from it because no one was available to chair the event,” said Becky Callahan, the mother of a Discovery first-grader. “This year, we were like, ‘That’s kind of lame that it didn’t happen last year. We need to bring it back.’”
The school’s Parent Teacher Student Association spearheaded the food festival, with Callahan and fellow parent Catherine Campbell doing much of the planning.
Callahan said the initial idea was to host “Taste of Discovery” in the spring, but plans changed because “we thought it would be better to have around the holidays, because a lot of people are looking for recipes for parties, that sort of thing.”
Campbell, who has a son in kindergarten and a daughter in fourth grade at Discovery, said people were quick to volunteer. More than 15 tables were set up for the event, with a wide variety of foods like cupcakes, barbecued chicken, seafood pancakes, corn chowder and pumpkin pie dip.
“There were definitely a ton of people who wanted to bring a different taste from all the different cultures that are represented in the Sammamish community,” Campbell said.
“We were pretty much open to whatever people wanted to bring in,” Callahan added, “but we were trying to emphasize something that is culturally or traditionally a big hit.”
More than 100 students and parents filled the school’s gymnasium for the event, and participating went beyond the simple taste test.
In one corner of the room, Skyline High School junior Katie Gibian helped youngsters make edible eagles — Discovery’s mascot — using Oreo cookies, marshmallows, shredded coconut and chocolate chips.
Campbell’s daughter Sydnee had a huge crowd surrounding her table as she frosted dozens of mini cupcakes that she had baked herself.
Callahan made several dishes, including black bean brownies, and found the event to be a great way of highlighting outside-the-box approaches to healthy eating.
“I have a picky eater at home, and finding creative ways to get kids to eat healthy food is important,” she said.
“It’s also, I think, really important to emphasize to children early on the significance of their food choices,” she added. “Having a healthy diet and nutrition is really important to me as an adult … and it can be fun. It doesn’t have to be boring, boiled vegetables.”
Campbell’s son Nathan helped his grandmother make meatballs that were served at the event.
“Nathan thinks he’s going to be the next MasterChef Junior,” she said, referring to the televised cooking competition that began airing this year.