5 Fun Ways to Reinvent the Traditional Cafeteria Lunch

Sep 24, 2019 | Foodservice Industry, Schools

With the first month of school in the books, students’ excitement for the new academic year may have started to dwindle. Luckily, lunchtime can always serve as a pick-me-up. Cafeteria lunches have come a long way from “Mystery-Meat Mondays,” but the traditional school lunch still leaves something to be desired. If you’re looking to revamp your cafeteria’s menu, read on for our five fun ways to reinvent the traditional school lunch. 

Set Up a Grab-n-Go Station

Setting up a grab-n-go station with plenty of room for different food items, like Cambro Camshelving Flex Station, can reduce the length of time students stand in the lunch line, and gives them more time to enjoy their meals. Students who bring brown-bag lunches can easily add an item to their meal from the station, or grab a healthy snack as they’re heading to their next class. The Flex Station is easy to maneuver, fits a variety of food pans, and works great with Cambro Camchillers to keep drinks and produce cool all lunch long (over four hours to be exact!). 

Introduce Cuisine From Other Cultures

Instead of building a menu entirely of American cuisine, consider featuring menu items from different cultures on a rotating, or permanent basis. This is a great way to teach students about different countries and traditions, and help picky eaters expand their palates. 

Come Up With Fun Names for Menu Items

For elementary-aged children, in particular, renaming traditional foods can promote healthy eating habits and encourage them to try new things. You can take a page out of the Smarter Lunchroom Movement’s book and create names based on the food’s nutritional benefit, like “x-ray vision carrots.” For more inspiration, check out their list of creative, fun, and descriptive food names

Highlight Healthy Options

With almost 20% of adolescents qualifying as obese, it’s more important than ever to teach students healthy eating habits early on. The trick is to present them with healthy options in ways that make them preferable to less-nutritional choices like pizza and hotdogs. A great way to do this to use a build-your-own salad station. Cambro’s Versa Food Bar attractively displays salad fixings and students have fun creating their own dish that’s specific to their tastes. Its modular design and portability can accommodate a large volume of students and fits in any cafeteria space. Like the Cambro Flex Station, the Versa Food Bar is compatible with Camchillers, as well as Coldfest Pans and Crocks to keep food cold for hours. 

Bring the Cafeteria to the Classroom

For an afternoon pick-me-up, consider bringing the cafeteria to the students. Send lunch-room attendants around to each classroom with healthy snacks, like carrots and hummus or applesauce, and give students something to look forward to. You can promote strong bones in growing students by bringing around milk cartons in the Cambro Milk-Crate Box. This insulated box is made from expanded polypropylene material to keep the milk cool. It can fit standard-sized milk crates with room for up to 70 half-pints, and its adjustable strap makes for comfortable transport around the school. 

Contact Elevation Foodservice Reps

If you want to step up your cafeteria lunches, talk to us. Elevation Reps will help you select the best products for your school to keep your students well-fed and ready to learn.