Linking Foodservice to Nutritional Education

"There's a nagging problem within school districts: that by and large, school f/s programs are not considered part of the mainstream education process," says consultant Tom Hinton.

"That's unfortunate because nutrition and learning go together. You cannot have one without the other. Regrettably, school administrators and school boards have ignored the value of a school f/s program."

3-step plan: Hinton's plan was to implement a three-step program among Glendora USD's f/s employees.

The first was an awareness of the importance of customer service. "It is a philosophy, not a dept.," he says. "If you want to increase your school f/s business, the first thing you have to do is train your front-line employees working three or four hours a day in the art of customer service."

Step two was teaching them to deliver service with a smile, "and at the same time increase repeat business through kindness, by addressing the students by their names."

The third leg is selling with service. There is, Hinton maintains, an opportunity to generate repeat business and overall awareness as kids pass through to pick up their meals.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
vote buttons pins

On every other Thursday of our four-week cycle menu, we allow K-8 students to pick the entree choices. The media center specialist for each of the participating schools sets up the list of entree items on a computer for voting, and the winning entrees are given to cafeteria managers two weeks before the upcoming month to put into production. Students really like this, as it promotes ownership of the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chalkboard

We highlight our North Carolina products on a large chalkboard in our dining halls, and also list any produce we bring in from our own agroecology farm. It helps tell our story—positive and local.

Ideas and Innovation
raised garden beds

We have raised garden beds that residents can reserve and use to grow their own plants. Whenever a resident brings me fresh produce from their own garden, I try and incorporate it into a dish. If I do end up using it, I will display the resident’s name and what the produce was next to the dish on the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chartwells teaching kids

Curriculum for the mobile teaching kitchen centers around a single kid-friendly recipe, using ingredients that can provide talking points for nutrition, sustainability and food origins. “The recipe is the lesson,” Saidel says. “Every ingredient is an opportunity to talk.”

Earlier this year, Saidel, Perkins and Harvey did a student demo featuring roasted chicken and white bean tacos with greens and citrus salsa. “We can say, ‘Why are we using chicken instead of beef? Why are there some beans in here?’ You can talk about plant proteins and the sustainability and health message around...

FSD Resources