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Three key considerations for educational foodservice

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During the past year, school foodservice directors approached feeding students and staff with care and creativity. As students return to campus into a still-changing environment, the dining model needs to stay flexible. Read these approaches to offer engaging foodservice in evolving times across all education environments:

Grab-and-go is still paramount

Restrictions on density and distance will remain and students need to be able to pick up meals for dining in classrooms, residence halls, quads, and campus centers. Here are some tips and equipment to make it work.

  • Convert traditional dining spaces to market-style grab-and-go centers.
  • Repurpose self-service hot and cold bars for extra grab-and-go space.
  • Add temperature-controlled holding cabinets to keep meals at temperature and attractive reach-in cases ready for showcasing meals and encouraging impulse buys.
  • For grab-and-go efficiencies, batch-cooking in centralized operations makes sense. Key equipment needs include blast and tumble chillers, hot-water baths and all-in-one tanks.
  • In the K-12 environment, meals may be taken exclusively in the classroom. In this case, grab-and-go could mean selecting options from temperature-controlled mobile carts dispatched around the school.

Online ordering is taking over campus

Foodservice provider Chartwells recently surveyed students and found that more than 50% desire mobile ordering and pickup-style service, eliminating the standard check-out procedure.

Revamp your menu

In some ways, the start of the 2021-2022 school year offers foodservice directors a chance to start over — especially for students who have been virtual-only for the past year. Financially, it makes sense, too. The School Nutrition Association recently found that 90% of districts say financial losses are a moderate or serious concern. Learn what students crave, meets nutritional needs, and is within budget.

Consider the wait

Some dishes can’t stand prolonged hold times, like between classes or lunch shifts. Think about selections that are youth-friendly and retain quality over time. Breakfast scrambles, protein bowls, and flavorful chili are smart, filling options.

Plant-based is a must-have

65% of kids, teens, and young adults in Gen Z say that they prefer a “plant-forward” diet and more than 75% go meatless multiple times a week. Kitchen needs for plant-based proteins are minimal; however, combi-ovens can help keep these menu-items succulent, while fryers help enhance texture.

Explore the top foodservice equipment and supplies — so you know what’s really worth the investment — only at The NAFEM Show.

Foodservice leaders can take advantage of The NAFEM Show’s scholarship program for first-time attendees which provides a complimentary badge plus $500 toward travel expenses. School foodservice director Kelly, a previous scholarship recipient, used this opportunity to explore equipment and find new ideas for her students. Learn more.

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