With the school year coming to a close, now is the time for
schools to consider changes for next year. There is always room for improvement
and some opportunities are outside of the classroom. The school cafeteria is
the perfect place to begin a summer overhaul. By the time school opens next
fall, returning students will not recognize their cafeteria. It will be
equipped with plastic counter displays
freestanding dispensers, and a new menu.
Cafeteria managers should use dietary guidelines to create a
menu for the new school year. The USDA has the authority to govern the foods
served within school cafeterias. During the course of a week, school meals must
comply with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and provide at least one-third
of daily nutrient requirements. Decisions are made locally regarding what foods
to serve and how to prepare these.
Once the new menu has been developed, cafeteria managers
should determine the types of displays needed to hold food items. For example,
if the school provides breakfast to students, countertop racks will be needed
to display individual boxes of cereal and baskets will be required to hold
fresh fruit. Cereal can also be dispensed from gravity style containers arranged
in a countertop or wall-mounted cereal buffet station.
Many lunches feature condiments and schools can keep these
organized with a condiment station. A freestanding display with removable bins
stores each condiment in a separate compartment and simplifies cleaning. A
station can be placed at each dining table so students do not need to get up to
get ketchup, mustard, and other condiments. At the end of each school day,
cafeteria workers will remove bins to clean and refill them.
Stackable acrylic and
plastic bins make excellent containers for healthy snacks like granola
bars, packaged trail mix, and dried fruit. Most schools are trying to eliminate
sugary, calorie-laden desserts like cakes and cookies. They fill these
containers with healthier alternatives that provide energy without adding
inches to the waistline. When kids eat healthy, their brains operate at peak
levels, making the learning experience more worthwhile.
Schools have a few months over the summer to upgrade the
cafeteria with these displays. They should begin advertising the new menu in
August so children will be prepared for lunch on the first day of school. Come
September, more children will be taking lunch money rather than lunch bags to
school, increasing revenue for the institution.