Planning the menu for a new school year can be daunting since there are many regulations and logistical issues to cover. Here are some things to consider when planning great school nutrition services.
Following Nutrition Guidelines
The United States Department of Agriculture's new regulations on school breakfast and lunch programs may be the first place to start when you're planning school meals. The new rules include such guidelines as having a dessert with at least 50% fruit available twice a week, and disallowing schools from providing foods that include pastry more than twice a week. With all of the new guidelines, you may need to consult a dietician in order to find foods that meet these requirements and fit within your budget.
Budgeting for Ingredients
You school's lunch menu may boil down to the amount of money you have to spend, and this can change each year due to the volume of students eating school lunches. When you're planning the menu for a new school year, you may need to know the ratio of students who will pay full price for their school lunches versus the number who will use reduced price lunch programs. These totals can affect the money you receive upfront for purchasing ingredients. You can send out a survey before the school year begins to get an estimate of who will be using the school lunch program.
Again, surveys can be your friend when deciding what ingredients to purchase. If you do a beginning of the year survey and find that an unusual number of students have a lactose allergy, you should plan to incorporate a lactose free option on a daily basis.
Making it Appealing
In order to plan a great menu that meets all of these standards, you will need to choose school nutrition services that provide fresh, high quality, and varied ingredients. You can enlist your school nutrition services provider to help you create a diverse rotating menu, using a wide variety of ingredients. Companies such as New Horizon Foods may offer options for nutritious meals.
A great food service provider will also be flexible enough to help you evaluate your menu's success; items that don't sell well can be replaced by items that have the same nutritional content, but are more appealing to students. Some schools are even using chef consultations to choose ingredient combinations for their menus. The success of your program will depend on your ability to adapt to everyone's needs and provide excellent service.