Increasing School Lunch Participation
Increasing school lunch participation is at the top of the list when it comes to school nutrition challenges. The bottom line is if students don't buy school lunches, there won't be any school lunches for students to buy. And that goes for the ones who do want to buy it and the students who depend on it, too.
The good news is there are a wide range of factors that can help increase the percentage of students who participate in school lunches. Here are a few ideas:
School Cafeteria Designs
As we mentioned above, there are many ways to help increase student participation in a school's lunch or breakfast service, and one of those ways is to create great school cafeteria designs.
Counters and serving lines that highlight different menu options in appealing ways can make school cafeterias look more like quick serve restaurant concepts, which will inevitably increase participation. Those same serving lines can include graphics that enhance school spirit, and their design can ultimately increase efficiency and reduce student waiting times. Consider these school cafeteria design ideas:
School Cafeteria Serving Lines
Students who eat school lunches or school breakfasts will usually need to go through a school cafeteria serving line in order to get their meals. What does this mean? Serving lines are the most important areas in any school cafeteria. They're the places where the staff and the students interact, where the cooking process becomes part of a student's school day.
There are ways to make serving lines safer, more attractive, and more efficient. Here are some tips:
Healthier School Lunches
School lunch programs exist to nourish our children, to provide them with healthy school lunch choices to help them achieve their academic goals throughout the day. What students put into their bodies will directly impact their performance in schools, but healthier school lunches are so much more than that.
In reality, a healthy school lunch also needs to be tasty, timely, enjoyable, and it should contribute to a positive school experience. No matter what federal, state, and local governments say, it's eventually up to the individual districts to transform available resources into a healthy menu options in the schools. Here is some resource material that might help:
School Lunch Menus
School lunch menus are probably the number one contributor to student participation in a school lunch program, or lack thereof. The main reason is pretty simple -- flavor, flavor, flavor. Students will more often than not make lunch decisions on how the food will taste.
That being said, flavor isn't the only contributing factor to student participation. Other important considerations are menu diversity, the demographics of the student body, the design of the cafeteria, and adding an element of fun to school lunch service. Learn more:
School Cafeteria Refrigeration
In order for schools to serve safe and healthy lunch and breakfast options, food must first be stored in proper conditions before it undergoes the cooking process. This almost always involves the use of walk-in refrigeration, walk-in freezers, milk storage, or even reach-in refrigeration.
In many instances, as school menus evolve over the years and there's a greater need for additional equipment solutions, space becomes a major factor in the overall capabilities of a school's nutrition program. School cafeteria refrigeration plays an important role in how spaces are used and developed. Here's some information as to why:
School Cafeteria Ovens
School cafeteria ovens are the lifeblood of the entire operation because they are a central component to just about every cooking process. How school cafeterias utilize this space will often determine how well the food is received by students and how well the school is doing in terms of providing healthy, nutrition menu options.
From convection ovens to combis, ovens can allow Florida school nutrition directors to do more with less space. They can help turn unhealthy foods into healthy ones by changing how ingredients are cooked (fried versus steamed, for example). And they can help ease labor issues by being easy to use and easy to train incoming staff members on how they're operated.
Introducing: The Lunch Language Newsletter
The Lunch Language Newsletter is all about school nutrition and K-12 foodservice, aimed at helping our unsung school nutrition heroes here in the state of Florida. We're committed to being a go-to resource for cafeteria staff and foodservice school operators throughout the state, providing them with the best possible solutions and valuable tools needed to help feed the future.
Want to learn more about Lunch Language? Watch our video below: