Posted by Patrick Maness
As we’ve tried to emphasize in this blog series, the goal of a successful school lunch program isn’t merely to serve the greatest number of kids in the most economically efficient way possible. Like running a restaurant, the goal is to create an inviting atmosphere, a place where kids want to come to eat — an atmosphere that will make them excited about nutrition.
The challenge, however, is that school cafeterias must work within a very strict budget. Therefore, people who run school cafeterias must strike a balance between efficiency and appearance.
To see how this might be done, let’s look at some functional cafeteria equipment that can help foster a pleasant eating environment.
Condiment station — Having a separate station for students to load up on the condiments of their choice gives them the option to decide how much ketchup and mustard they want to use and also reduces their time spent waiting in line.
Grab and go or à la carte line — With today’s busy schedules, not every student has time to sit down and eat his or her lunch. And let’s face it, not everyone is going to like what’s on the menu. For these reasons, having an à la carte line gives students the option to pick up a sandwich or bag of veggies when they need to. In addition, the revenue generated by these à la carte lines may pay for the service itself — or even produce additional revenue for the lunch program.
Compartment trays — Let’s face it: they may not be too glamorous, but the classic compartment tray just makes sense. Loose plates and dishes are a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, there are ways to have fun with molded trays. For instance, using multiple colors can help introduce some variety to the lunch routine.
Veggie station — To encourage the kids to eat more nutrient-rich foods such as fruits and veggies, consider installing a separate veggie station. Placed outside of the main serving line, this station is there for kids to grab some extra greens. If students are still hungry after their main course, they can get up and grab more vegetables. A nutritious way to fill up!
Make it indestructible — When shopping for cafeteria supplies, be sure to buy with longevity in mind. These kids will put them to the test! Durable items might cost more, but as we discussed in our blog on the total cost of operation, they will be worth the investment.
Read other articles in this series: