Serving methods and dining environment currently used in successful high school child nutrition programs in Georgia

Richardson, Marie
Major Professor
Mary B. Gregoire
Committee Member
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Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management

In-depth case studies, observing actual practice of service methods, service designs, and cafeteria design and decor in Child Nutrition Programs (CNPs) was conducted in five successful Georgia high schools. Successful high school CNP's were defined as programs with lunch participation greater that 60% combined with a fund balance sufficient to cover two months' operating cost and less than 50% of the students qualified for free and reduced-price meals. The schools were identified as successful by the Georgia Department of Education Child Nutrition division. Interviews with managers and directors, historical records and on-site observations were utilized to seek data.;This research found that dining room decor did not appear to be a factor in making the schools successful. With the exception of the two recently built schools, dining decor was basic. The research did reveal that the schools have sufficient seats to accommodate all students during each lunch period. Except for School A the dining rooms were crowded, but a few empty seats were always available.;All five of the successful high schools have an automated point-of-sale system to help provide efficient service. The directors and managers use the related software to assist in materials management, production forecasting and scheduling, service, and monitoring performance. To improve participation and the efficiency of the lunch service the directors had made changes to decrease the amount of time students wait in line. These included offering additional service lines so that students are able to receive their meals more quickly and using remote serving lines throughout the dining area to provide many access points.;Adding to the success of these schools was the presentation of the food on the serving line, temperature, food choices, and portion size flexibility. The schools offered from 5 to 21 entree choices and several side items daily. The entree is served to the student and all other items are self-serve. The managers and directors are proud of the quality of the food served. All five schools prepared hot foods close to service time and continuously during service time to minimize holding. They use a wide variety of resources to solicit input from their students: surveys, taste testing, informal discussion, P.O.S. reports, and informal cafeteria rounds.