Lunch on the Go: Thinking Outside the Cafeteria

The evolution of school foodservice started before the coronavirus pandemic, but the pandemic certainly accelerated it. Schools have realized that students gravitate toward food offered outside of the cafeteria when it’s offered in an attractive, eye-catching way in high-traffic areas. It’s essential that you not only entice students to visit these locations, but that the food you provide has the same quality that they would receive in the cafeteria. We have five products that can support your lunch on the go program to make it thrive:

  1. Cambro Vending Cart

You could be serving the most delicious burritos ever made, but if you’re serving them out of an ugly, old service cart, students may never try them! An appealing presentation signifies appealing food. We eat with our eyes, and a dingy setup doesn’t exactly make whatever you’re serving seem appetizing. The Cambro Vending Cart is designed with a range of colorful ready-to-ship wraps or custom wraps featuring your school’s name or mascot.

“It’s so attractive if you’re driving up or you’re walking up and you see that from a distance versus a pushcart with a little table next to it,” said Elizabeth Alfaro, Director of Nutrition Services at Collier County Public Schools in Florida. “We had one school that just by simply putting a Cambro Vending Cart out there, had more participation.”

The Cambro Vending Cart isn’t just a pretty face either. Food is kept at ideal temperatures thanks to five GN 1/1 food pan wells that can accommodate Camchillers and three storage compartments that fit Cam GoBoxes® to keep food hot or cold. Plus, there is an option to add 12-inch safety barrier and clear sneeze guard to protect both students and staff.

  1. CamKiosk® Cart

When Jennifer Mullin, Food Service Manager at Washington Township Public Schools, needed to serve students lunch at four additional locations on one campus, she purchased CamKiosk Carts to be used at each one. They’re able to serve 80 to 120 lunches at each location, with a variety of meals like cheeseburgers, pizza, wraps and salads.

“I know the Cambro product and…we looked in our catalog and that was it. I think it’s just the reputation of Cambro,” said Mullin.

Constructed with a striking hot red exterior, Mullin chose to personalize the CamKiosks with a custom Washington Township Food Services front display. Students can’t miss these CamKiosks—in fact, Mullin says they serve the most meals out of them versus any other location!

  1. Versa Work Table

Best for non-perishable and cold foods, the Versa Work Table nicely displays drinks, packaged meals and snacks. It’s especially perfect for elementary school students because its height gives them the ability to clearly see and select what they want. The Versa Work Table holds an impressive amount of inventory on top of the unit as well as the cabinets underneath to support quick service. Carolyn Barnes, Foodservice Director of Newberry County School District in South Carolina, wanted to serve breakfast more efficiently.

“In the morning, three carts are filled with different breakfast items and wheeled to separate halls. We are able to feed all the children in about 15 minutes,” said Barnes.

This process can work well for grab-in-go lunch items in hallways or at high-traffic areas like the quad. The Versa Work Table’s low profile is ideal for wheeling around campus, making it easy for just one employee to handle setup, service and clean-up.

  1. Camshelving Premium Series® Flex Station

Many schools already have Flex Stations for breakfast; get double the use out of it by taking it out during lunch. Using Camwear Food Pans, Camwear Boxes, divider bars and ID Tags, the Flex Station can be transformed to merchandise whatever you have to offer! Display sandwiches, salads, fruit, chips and drinks for students to choose from in alternative locations around campus. If students are already used to selecting breakfast items in your Flex Station, they should acclimate very easily to lunchtime service.

The Flex Station offers the ability for one employee to easily stock, wheel and serve. Students can easily scan a variety of options before selecting. Utilize a Camchiller to keep perishable foods and drinks chilled during service.

  1. Cam GoBox

When you put a couple Cam GoBoxes on a Camdolly, there’s nothing you can’t do. With the ability to hold non-perishable, hot or cold foods, top-loading and front-loading GoBoxes are great on their own or added to any of the carts mentioned above. Serve pre-packaged meals or single items like burritos with ease and confidence.

The cafeteria is out and literally anywhere else is in! What started as a necessity has grown into a cool way to buy school lunch. Students love the idea of grabbing their lunch and taking it somewhere outside to enjoy. Contact your local Cambro sales rep to find the best solution for your schools!


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