Model for Improvement - Menu of change options for the lunch room

Advisory team members of faculty and students from Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab visited the school cafeterias in Clinton and Franklin counties. They identified a number of changes that would result in improvement. They asked the teams in Clinton and Franklin counties to pick two to three changes for testing in the school cafeteria. Please note that the suggested changes were explained in specific terms with examples which was very helpful to the schools.

Menu of lunch room changes

  1. Make skim milk the default choice
    • Larger cartons of skim milk
    • Have lunch staff ask students what type of milk they preferred (or suggest skim milk, not suggest chocolate)
    • Place skim milk toward the front of the cooler, and place chocolate milk in back of the cooler or in a cooler that needed a longer walk or required a lid to be lifted.
  2. Establish a Youth Advisory Council
    • Invite teams of students to come up with ideas and suggestions for signage in the cafeteria
    • Have students become more involved in deciding lunch room dining (e.g. voting on menu items, naming menu items)
  3. Improve signage opportunities
    • Especially at point of purchase
      • Plastic signs that rotate
      • Catchy slogans-have Youth Advisory Council some up with ideas
        • Take an apple for later
        • Don't go hungry later-take a piece of fruit
  4. Increase fruit consumption by improving placement or attractive displays
    • Make fruit bowls more appetizing by using colorful ceramic bowls (instead of flat trays)
    • Sell cut up fruit, not just whole fruit
    • Bigger opening for fruit/easier access with signage
    • Have students 'work more' to reach the dessert and 'work less' to reach fruit
    • Don't put dessert at eye level; put fruit at eye level instead
    • Put the fruit before the main entree in lunch line (as an additional 'thought' for buying fruit before reaching the end of the line)
    • Have cashier offer fruit at point of purchase and put an additional fruit bowl by cash register
  5. Offer healthier options in the a la carte line
    • In the a la carte line (snack line), in addition snacks, offer healthier options (such as fruit and skim milk on ice) as well. This would allow those who bring lunches to supplement their lunch with healthier snacks, not just junk food, without having to wait in the hot lunch line. Waiting in line was identified as a barrier to purchasing lunch.
  6. Increase salad consumption
    • Put salad as 'main entree' or in biggest portion of tray
    • Offer other low-calorie salad dressings (especially ranch)
    • Supply dressing bottles with smaller openings
    • Place croutons in a shaker instead of in a bowl
    • Place smaller serving spoons for salad dressing or croutons
    • Add one or two more items to salad (e.g., carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes)
  7. Discourge unhealthy food consumption
    • Decrease or limit quantity of cookies that students are allowed to purchase
    • Put tray of cookies behind cash register
    • Increase price of cookies to 50 cents
  8. Keep sodas or less-healthful drinks in case behind cash register (as is currently done)
  9. Offer tastings or samples of current food served in lunch lines
    • Have the Youth Advisory Council hand out samples to different tables in lunch time
    • Have a class serve as a 'test group' that tastes different lunch food items and recommends certain items to the rest of the school (e.g. Class X recommends . .)
    • Perhaps providing fewer daily options may cut down on costs, since the increase in choices does not necessarily increase the sales
    • Provide lunch menus or pictures of the food in the parent newsletter or school website, or at parent-teacher conferences