Why School Cafeterias Are the New Food Courts

By Jackie Ceithamer Apr 22, 2020

The idea of a school lunch line can be long and boring for students, taking up much of their valuable eating time. Because of this, many students choose to avoid buying school lunches, but for innovative school nutrition programs, there can be other options.

In order to boost the participation in school cafeterias, the food court option is becoming largely popular across the country. Students find themselves gravitating to this model since it represents food courts at their favorite shopping centers, destroying the unattractive stigma of cafeteria food and school lunches.  

What is the food court layout? 

Instead of having a single line for students to choose their lunch options, the cafeteria has several areas across the room offering different lunch options. Most cafeterias are looking into breaking their kitchen into different stations, where food is available in hot or cold storage. Depending on what lunch choice students want, they are encouraged to enter a shorter line and check out much quicker. This allows them more time during their lunch to spend with friends and enjoying their meals. 

Embrace the Food Court Appearance

Whether you are looking to store hot or cold food items, food courts have a significant appearance where students can view their food options quickly and make a determination on what they would like. Signage helps differentiate the different dining options in the cafeteria, and it also makes serving areas more attractive as they look more like quick serve restaurants than standard school lunchrooms. After all, we first eat with our eyes, so having attractive looking stations will only help to encourage participation.

Consider Grab-n-Go Cases

Instead of on-demand preparation, consider using either cold or hot grab-n-go cases that will allow for faster service while also freeing up the other serving stations in the cafeteria. From sandwiches and wraps to salads and soups, providing these options quickly results in a win for everyone. That being said, using grab-n-go cases also requires a level of proficiency when it comes to temperature controls. Foods should be held and displayed in conditions that preserve quality and ensure safety. 

The students entering the lunchroom are choosing their option based on the first glance, so you want to have your food items properly displayed so that they know all of their lunch options so they can make a quick decision. 

Need ideas to optimize your displays?

Let us help you select the right case that optimizes how your food products are displayed. Download our Foodservice Merchandising Tips Sheet to get started.

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