The coronavirus pandemic hit school foodservice operations like a pop quiz, no one knew it was coming and each one did their best despite being completely underprepared. In the following months, operators fought to adapt to an extremely different way of providing meals. Now that Aldine Independent School District has perfected their meal distribution system, they’re looking ahead to the big exam: when students return to school.
Before the pandemic, Dani Sheffield, Executive Director of Child Nutrition Services at Aldine ISD, had her eye on improving their breakfast participation scores. They were averaging 50 percent and she made it a goal to find something that would help them reach a higher goal.
“We saw a [Cambro Flex Station] in a catalog and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this looks neat. This is what we want, we want something easy to roll, that’s attractive where students can just pick up their breakfast’,” said Sheffield.
The Flex Station truly lives up to its name. With options that include using divider bars, Camwear Food Pans®, Camwear Boxes and solid or vented shelves, the design possibilities are endless. Whether you’re providing cold food, hot food, shelf stable items, fruits or a mix of everything, there’s a way for the Flex Station to transform into the perfect solution. Sheffield worked with her Cambro rep and together they created this design:
Utilizing Camwear Food Pans, Cam GoBoxes and colored bins, Sheffield and her rep were able to create her ideal unit. Sheffield ordered a handful of Flex Stations and was able to successfully implement them for a few weeks in a couple of high schools before the pandemic shut down their schools.
“[Employees] can easily move to where the students are with [the Flex Stations] because they literally have nothing else to roll out except that cart,” said Sheffield. “When they’re full they’re very attractive.”
Previously, breakfast was provided via heavy insulated transport carts; employees were quick to notice the difference.
“[The employees] love it because they’re much lighter than the big ones we have and it just requires one person,” said Sheffield. “You can pack a lot of items on it.”
Although the trial run for Flex Stations was brief, Sheffield was happy with the feedback she received and decided to order a total of 274 units to be used in their 82 schools. While Aldine ISD is starting the school year virtually, Sheffield wanted to use that time to prepare for when students are able to return.
“I like to say the breakfast carts are simply awaiting their debut,” said Sheffield.
To be continued….
We’ll check back with Sheffield after Aldine ISD’s students return to in-person learning to see how her breakfast participation is affected and how the Flex Stations are able to help promote social distancing and reduced handling.
Are you ready to prepare your operation for what lies ahead? Contact your Cambro rep today to design a Flex Station to support your school foodservice goals.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ADRIANA DESIDERIO IS THE DIGITAL CONTENT MANAGER AT CAMBRO.