Posted by Patrick Maness
Some may not believe it, but a considerable amount of forethought goes into designing a school cafeteria. While many may look strictly utilitarian, there is a careful logic dictating how tables, serving stations and the back kitchen are arranged.
Thanks to appropriate cafeteria design, workers can efficiently prepare the food and serve a large number of students. But design goes beyond functionality, too. The goal for many schools is to create an inviting, positive atmosphere that makes kids excited to eat. Here are some of the design ideas helping to do just that.
New designs — The most startling difference about today’s modern cafeterias is how much nicer they look. Motivating this change is the belief that providing students with a dining experience that is closer to what they will have in college or see in a corporate cafeteria will make them more willing to eat the nutritious food being offered.
Kitchen Consultants — There are a number of factors driving change in school’s cafeterias. Some of these include:
· School districts trying to achieve LEED certification.
· Student-run gardens.
· Parents and teachers being more conscious of the nutrition content of their foods.
· Changes in foodservice technology.
· Concern for childhood obesity.
To help balance all these concerns, a kitchen consultant is often called in to assess and advise the school regarding the appropriate changes. This person will usually have a background in cafeteria interior design and/or architecture, and can really help update a school’s kitchen to meet today’s concerns.
Food Trucks — Yes, they even use them in schools. During a major cafeteria renovation, Cupertino High School brought in food trucks to serve over 600 students. Equipped with convection ovens, grills, multiple burners, prep areas and more, these trucks served various street foods from a number of different ethnic cuisines. It goes to show how versatile food trucks can be!
Different Serving stations — It used to be that students would line up in a single line to be served a little bit of everything. Today, cafeterias are installing multiple food stations to give kids the option to customize their meal. These include vegetable and fruit stations, plus a rotating list of made-to-order items.
A challenge many school cafeterias face is that they must make these changes while working within a budget that needs to be approved. Because school lunches are about so much more than just feeding the kids, it’s important for them to work with consultants, architects and foodservice equipment experts to create a holistic picture of the benefits of such a design. It may seem like a lot of work, but once in place, people have a completely different view of the school cafeteria.
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