Lunch program offering Hmong dishes to SPASH students hopes to expand

STEVENS POINT – Food brings comfort, can be a window into different cultures, and can remind us of home.

However, school lunches are a different story, especially for students of color.

“Coming into school, it’s a whole different plate,” said Choua Wang, an 18-year-old senior at Stevens Point High School. “Sometimes you have pizza or breakfast for lunch.”

For diverse students like Wang, this year’s pilot program at SPASH through a local agricultural non-profit organization has helped make parenting and home cooking a part of life in a public high school.

“It makes me feel at home,” Wang said. “Getting Hmong food in schools is important because it’s an important part of Stevens Point culture.”

A lunch of various Hmong dishes can be seen on Tuesday at Central Rivers Farmshed in Stevens Point.  A dinner was organized to celebrate the first anniversary of the Sib Pab pilot program, which aims to provide culturally sensitive school lunches for Stevens Point area high school students from underrepresented communities.

Several dozen students and members of the SPASH community gathered Tuesday at Central Rivers Farmshed on Briggs Street to celebrate the end of the school year when the non-profit organization unveiled a culturally specific nutrition program that was first aimed at the local Hmong population.

Ann Wang, who runs the Sib Pab for Central Rivers Farmshed, said the program has evolved over the course of the school year.

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