Is your school district facing challenges when it comes to foodservice? You aren't alone in facing those difficulties. Nearly every school district in the country finds foodservice challenging, and those challenges can be placed in five different areas.
Five Challenging Aspects of School Foodservice that we see...
Serve delicious, healthy food in an atmosphere that entices children to eat it. Do so in often insufficient kitchens that are frequently understaffed and all while staying within a strict budget. Did we say school foodservice was challenging? Below are the five biggest factors affecting the success of a school foodservice program.
Cramped or outdated kitchens can significantly affect the quantity, quality, and variety of foods you produce. They also affect how quickly you can serve that food. Since students only have a limited time in which to eat and socialize, they may opt to bring a lunch from home rather than spend time waiting in line for an unimpressive school lunch.
Having a centralized kitchen can help you produce quality food more efficiently. So can modern, state-of-the-art kitchen equipment. The right equipment can help you produce a variety of consistently high-quality foods with a smaller staff. Using the proper equipment and technology can help solve many of your facilities-related challenges.
It's hard to attract workers when unemployment rates are so low. It's even harder when budgeting constraints don't let school districts compete with the private sector for workers. With the difficulty in getting staff, it's even more important to increase efficiency so the workers you do have can do more with less work.
Finding fresh, healthy ingredients while staying within budget is always a balancing act. However, providing students with nutritious food that tastes great is essential to the success of any school lunch program. It doesn't matter how much money you save by buying lower-quality ingredients if the students won't buy the resulting meals.
This is especially true in the modern 'foodie' culture where students are constantly exposed to a steady diet of celebrity chefs and cooking competitions on television and throughout media. Many of them now want to know where their food comes from and how it's prepared. They also want a more varied menu that better suits their evolving tastes.
Ah, finances! The juggling act that makes everything work. You'll need to find the right balance between quality ingredients, enough staff, and the proper facilities and equipment for getting the job done. Once you've struck the right balance, you should be able to increase the number of students willing to buy their lunches.
Even when you're doing everything right, you still have to get the students to actually eat your meals. This is where transparency and education are vital. It's important to acknowledge food allergies and cultural preferences within your menus. Take advantage of the popularity of celebrity chefs and cooking shows to educate kids about 'real food' rather than the fast food, processed meals, and junk food with which they may be most familiar.
Encourage younger students to explore new foods. Middle and high school students are often environmentally and health-conscious. Share your efforts at waste reduction and being green. Educate them on locally sourced ingredients and the nutritional benefits of your healthy school lunches. The more interested and invested they are in your school's foodservice program, the more likely they are to purchase their lunches at school!
Here at GMV, our specialty is Equipment and supplies to the foodservice industry. We have the knowledge to help you utilize the latest equipment in your facilities. Our offering of equipment can help with some of these issues above.