Bill Schuster had a problem. His district, Fremont Union High School District, in California, was made up entirely of high schools with open campuses. With a very low percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced priced meals, 18%, Schuster, the district’s dining services director, knew he needed to make some changes to get students to remain on campus and participate in the district’s foodservice program. Following the passage of a $198 million bond issue five years ago, Schuster is renovating each of the five cafeterias. The first opened this fall at Cupertino High School.
The new two-story Student Union was designed to take advantage of natural lighting.
“I did not want the cafés to look like a typical high school cafeteria,” Schuster says. “It’s more like what you’d expect to see in a corporate dining facility or a college dining hall with the café scatter system and exhibition station. Since a good percentage of students who graduate from this district attend college, I wanted to start treating them more like college students than high school students.”
The menu features hot and cold sandwiches and a rotating list of made-to-order items prepared in a station with six burners and a grill. Woks are used for Asian dishes. Some of the food wells at the stations can be used hot or cold, and other stations have flat, hot areas to serve food from roasting pans instead of the traditional two-inch steam table pans.
Since opening the renovated café, participation is averaging around 30% for lunch.
The other four cafeterias also are being renovated and will open in the next two years. During renovations, food trucks serve students.
The five food trucks are equipped with convection ovens, burners, a grill, refrigeration, hot serving wells, deli prep area and sinks. The menus feature street foods from various world cuisines. Around 600 students were served at Cupertino High School by the food trucks when the cafeteria was closed for renovation. Following the renovation project, the trucks will be used for special events, catering, concessions and group rentals, in addition to continuing service at the schools.