By Chief Business and Operations Officer, Mr. Mark Evans
School cafeterias are not usually destinations students are eager to go. Fortunately, with the efforts of our Food Services staff and the company overseeing the meal service, we have seen an increased interest. Rather than relying on the captive audience mindset, our staff is working hard to make meals healthy and appealing to students. The high school has weekly bar-b-ques, a fresh new Café where sandwiches, salads, and smoothies are available, seasonal menu items, and pizza made on sight rather than transported in a box. Jammar Jones, our Director of Dining Services, and Lena Bonyad, our Lead Cafeteria staff member, collaborate and create menu items that are colorful and inviting. It is still a challenge to prepare food for students across the district, but these two staff members are leading the charge. Their efforts, along with the food service workers who make up the team, have created options that have the “familiar” feel – like the pizza and burgers, all the way to salmon with steamed vegetables and rosemary potatoes. Pho and other Asian entrees are regular options, and on Thursdays you can find the grill going with traditional burgers as well as pulled pork, brats, or ribs.
On the elementary front, we are introducing the bar-b-que option as well. Each month there will be a BBQ day where the grill will be going. Pizza has transformed into flatbreads, and ala carte options other than goldfish and cookies are coming online. Parfaits, fresh fruit and smoothies will give more choice to students and increase the healthiness of those ala carte items. Coming down the pike is a monthly fresh smoothie day where a staff member will prepare the drinks on site for the students.
We are striving to improve the effectiveness of our food services. In addition to expanding the menu, we have eliminated styrofoam serving trays and replaced them with trays that will breakdown in the environment. The options for service are being explored as well. We have students at the high school who are often there well past the academic day, so discussions about holding hours beyond lunch are being explored. Also, as we look at developing a new facilities master plan, considerations about how to serve students with better facilities have become part of the dialogue.
Come by and take a look at what’s for lunch across the district. You will find freshly made sandwiches, roasted potatoes with sprigs of rosemary, bright green broccoli, Hawaiian pizza, salads made from greens and grains, flatbreads, and many more new options. Our goal is to encourage students to eat with us in the cafeteria, enjoy the meals, all while keeping them healthy, and providing items that students want to eat – so we don’t see trash cans filled with food. Many reports back have been quite positive, and we hope you will take a look at what’s getting served up across our district.