Paint Branch High School adds new menu items to please picky eaters

Montgomery County schools added kiosks with fruit and burgers to keep students eating on site.

Oct. 24—A couple of blocks from Paint Branch High School, in Maryland’s Montgomery County, there's a strip mall with a 7-Eleven, a Pizza Hut and a Chinese restaurant. And every day around 11 a.m., the students from Paint Branch start rolling in. Kelvinesha Palmer, 18, in braids and a baseball cap, emerges from 7-Eleven with a drink and some chicken wings. Price tag: $7.77.

That’s a lot more than the $0.40 she would have paid for lunch at school. Palmer qualifies for reduced-price meals because her mom earns less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level. But since Kelvinesha has a part-time job, serving food at a retirement home, she skipped the cafeteria and splurged.

"I just didn’t like what they were having today," Palmer says. What was on the menu? "I think it was mozzarella sticks or the Beefaroni spaghetti thing."

Judging from the crowd at the strip mall, a lot of kids didn’t like what was on the menu. At Paint Branch, just a quarter of the 2,000 students eat the school meal.

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
sweet pea ravioli

On any given night at the Wake Robin senior living facility in Shelburne, Vt., residents may find spring sweet pea and mascarpone ravioli with white wine cream sauce or acorn squash stuffed with quinoa and cranberries on the menu. These dishes, along with a new sweet-potato burger topped with cilantro aioli, aren’t just delicious, says Director of Dining Services Kathy King. They’re also completely vegetarian.

The popularity of Meatless Mondays and the growing number of people who call themselves “flexitarians” have impacted menu development in every noncommercial sector. Although...

Managing Your Business
umass amherst food

Restaurateurs in Amherst, Mass., aren’t happy with UMass Dining .

Registered dietitian Dianne Sutherland told local NBC affiliate WWLP News in May that the high quality of food served on campus means students aren’t visiting neighborhood eateries as frequently as those businesses might like.

“Even our vendors who we work with, they get complaints from the restaurants that students are staying on campus,” she said. “They are already paying for the food; why should they [go] off campus to eat?” More than 19,000 Amherst students are on a meal plan—6,000 of whom live off campus...

Ideas and Innovation
lettuce eat dining

Forced to battle crumbling infrastructure and a constant churn of trends, sometimes the best way to save a foodservice operation is to change it entirely. As Steve Mangan, director of dining at the University of Michigan, puts it, “At some point when your building starts to fail, the cost of maintenance stands out.” But for operators with limited budgets, the challenge is discerning the right time to do so—and how far to take it.

At Jefferson High School, change came because little worked anymore. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, school’s cafeteria hadn’t been updated since 1957; students...

Managing Your Business
farmer produce

The seeds of farm-to-table 2.0 have officially blown into noncommercial foodservice. Since the movement has caught the attention of the segment during the past decade, operators have broadened agricultural collaborations outside of just supply. As a result, a new strain of the movement has been created that treats farms as allies in events, training and innovative growing systems.

The 500-bed Overlook Medical Center in Summit, N.J., didn’t start out sourcing produce from local farms; instead, it administered its own growing programs, including an on-site garden and honeybee apiary...

FSD Resources