Taster sessions and competitions for students to design the menu are always great ideas. But you could take it further by creating focus groups who come up with recipes for the menu. Or by providing goals for the students to challenge themselves with. For example, you might encourage your students to eat a piece of fruit daily, and in return, they get a loyalty stamp and at the end of a set period, the student can get a reward, like a free drink, or perhaps other longer-term or larger benefits that your school may be able to create.
Make Your Food Attractive
Just in the same way, commercial eateries need to keep their food fresh, your catering staff will need to do the same. Work out how you can serve food without keeping it on display too long, and how you can create enticing displays. Salads are usually very visually appealing and will also help to encourage your students to begin to add this to their lunch on a regular basis.
Create Healthy Meal Deals
Daily meal deals which are more cost-effective than the usual food options will encourage healthy eating, especially if the meal deals always include healthy options. It’s important to make the offer enticing for the student though. Offering lentils, salad and fruit even at the best price probably won’t work. But adding a salad or piece of fruit and a healthy drink into the deal, and replacing chips with vegetables or adding hot meals to the deals will all move the child towards making healthier choices.
Provide Incentives For Healthy Eating
We’ve briefly touched on this idea in an earlier suggestion. But if a student has incentives to eat healthier, they probably will. If you’re not sure what incentives to provide, ask your students to make suggestions. Ideas could include discounts, loyalty stamps to exchange for a prize, and faster queuing.
Host Food Festivals
Food festivals, themed days, or providing sample food will involve your students and encourage them to take part and try the food on offer. These opportunities will lead children into trying foods they wouldn’t otherwise have tried and will open their minds (or tastebuds) so that they’re tempted to try healthier foods in the future.
Many factors combine to create a vibrant and exciting school canteen experience for your students. This is why it’s necessary to spend a large amount of time researching, planning and preparing. Once you’ve implemented your plans there are several final touches you might want to include. These include finding ways to promote social interaction which means encouraging friends who eat different types of food to eat together. Creating an environment that your students value as their own, can only occur through positive interactions and encouraged input and feedback from your students.
Ideally, you’re looking for ways in which you can remove tension and replace that with positive relaxed vibes. And it’s important to remember that what is tension to a fourteen-year-old teenager will be quite different to that of a five-year-old. Trying to understand how your students will experience your school dining hall and then fixing potential issues is a fast-track for delivering an outstanding school canteen experience and for increasing the uptake of school meals – particularly the healthy options!