If your school is struggling to get students to participate in your breakfast and lunch programs, you’re not alone. An increase in school meal participation is vital to securing more money for your program. Many schools are frustrated with their meal processes but aren’t sure how to correct them. Whether you’re still operating primarily out of the cafeteria or you Grab-N-Go program just won’t take off, we have 3 changes you can make that will help turn your school meal results into an A+.
1. Engage with Students
It’s no secret students love to eat, but if they aren’t enthused about your offerings there is one easy way to change it: ask them! Ask students to fill out a survey about what they’d like to eat and offer taste tests for menu items that may be more adventurous for them to try. When your offerings are more appealing to your students’ tastes, they’re more likely to make an effort to get something to eat.
Engaging students can also be as simple as providing eye-catching signs that get students’ attention. Kevin Silvia, Resident District Manager at Whitsons Culinary Group in Lexington, Mass., set up signs on their Cambro Vending Carts that read “free meals” or “free breakfast.”
“My breakfast skyrocketed. I was lucky if I did 100 breakfasts at any point maximum. When we came back full, we were upwards to like 300 or 400 breakfasts.”
2. Meet Students Where They Are
Kids are all about convenience. The 6th graders at Windsor Public Schools in Connecticut are located in the farthest most point away from the cafeteria and it was very difficult for them to get to the cafeteria to pick up their breakfast, eat it and be in homeroom before the bell went off.
Foodservice Director Dana Plant realized she was losing valuable participation and the students were at a disservice. She started bringing Cam GoBoxes® full of breakfast into a classroom near the 6th grade wing to hold hot breakfast and, “the students love it,” Plant told us.
“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 Foodservice Director Carolyn Barnes.
3. Provide a Variety of Hot and Cold Options
Variety is key when it comes to participation. Seeing the same yogurt and muffin every day isn’t getting anyone excited for anything. Equipping your school with the tools to provide both hot and cold options is a game changer.
“The Cam GoBoxes were actually instrumental…because we originally were only going to do cold breakfast, but then [we were] able to serve hot food in these boxes,” said Plant.
Newberry County School District uses Camchillers to keep food cold in their Versa Work Tables and tested out how to keep hot items at the ideal temperature too.
“The unit is very insulated, so we don’t lose that much heat in 20 minutes of serving. We just make sure the temps are at 140 degrees when we leave the kitchen,” said Barnes.
Camchillers and GoBoxes are both compatible with the Cambro Vending Cart to allow schools to safely serve smoothies one day and breakfast burritos the next.