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Great Spaces: Union Collegiate Academy, Union Public Schools, Tulsa, Okla.

District redesigns high school dining program to resemble college atmosphere.

When more than 1,000 students were to be added to Union High School, in the Union Public School District in Tulsa, Okla., Lisa Griffin, R.D., director of child nutrition, knew she needed to upgrade the cafeteria to be able to handle the influx. The school was also undergoing a face-lift to become the Union Collegiate Academy. After a bond issue was passed, the district used the funds to transform the traditional high school into a collegelike space, with the goal of 100% graduation rate of college-ready students. To fulfill that mission in foodservice, Griffin’s team designed a dining program with nine different concepts and 20 seating areas, spread throughout the school.

The Union Street Market was created out of three classrooms. The market offers four self-branded stations, including Wok Works.

The idea for the panini grill kiosk came after visiting a downtown Tulsa B&I location and discovering how popular that station was to those employees. Lisa Griffin, R.D., director of child nutrition, thought the concept would translate well in the high school.

The Energy Bar offers grab-and-go items. Because the main serving area couldn't accommodate the influx of students during lunch, separate dining areas, like the Energy Bar, were opened around the campus to speed up service.

The salsa bar at Union Street Market. In addition to the new look, Eli Huff, executive chef/culinary operations coordinator for the district, redid menus to offer more choices and better quality. The district has partnered with area farms to bring in local produce.

Providing different seating areas was key to creating a collegelike dining atmosphere. This outdoor seating patio is open when the weather is nice.

The Cyber Cafe is like a Panera, with sandwiches, baked goods and grab-and-go items.

Adding all the different stations allowed the foodservice department to serve the growing student population in a timely fashion.

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