Students across the United States haven’t been in classrooms for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the summer months fly by, schools across the nation are faced with tough decisions for reopening. Many have announced reopening plans but are still working through logistical and financial challenges. One commonality most face is how to approach and safely handle the “new normal” for school lunch.
Top Two New Challenges for School Lunch
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, schools have been outlining multiple guidelines and implementing certain restrictions. The top two challenges faced by school lunchrooms are:
1. Finding safe/ efficient ways to serve pre-packaged meals.
2. Following and implementing social distancing guidelines.
With these two new challenges come other questions and obstacles that must be addressed and solved. These may include but are not limited to:
- Can pre-packaged meals meet nutritional guidelines?
- How will sustainability goals be met?
- How can package waste be dealt with efficiently?
- Where will the kids eat? Cafeteria, classroom, home?
- How will food be transported?
- How will the food be served?
- What about sanitization efforts?
- How will trash management be solved?
Solutions to Meet the New Challenges
We are ready to help with what you need to handle the ever-changing landscape of the new normal for school lunch service. The menu is key. A more simplified menu can help with meeting new restrictions and guidelines. This begins by reducing the number of entrees and sides and relying more on prepacked items. The pre-packaged lunch has to be secured to ensure there are no leaks or spills. This may eliminate certain staples like soups.
In the cafeteria, self-serve areas like salad bars are likely eliminated by new safety restrictions. Premade sides can offer a better alternative. When preparing take-home meals, consider cold items that can be reheated. Remember, these take-home meals will need to be kept at safe temperatures when waiting for pick-up/distribution.
Essentials for Safely Serving the New Normal School Lunch
The new normal of the school lunch means a detailed look at the tools available for safe, efficient, and budget-friendly serving of meals to K-12 students. In the cafeteria, as well as in the classroom, sanitization stations must be made available. A motion-sensor sanitizer stand makes it easy for even the youngest students to use. A breakfast cart with easy-to-sanitize stainless steel worktop can help with social distancing and safety in the cafeteria.
When delivering lunches to classrooms, opt for the safety of insulted pan carriers that can be stacked on rolling service carts. Mightylite is perfect for this, from our front-loading insulated pan carriers to our top-load pan carriers. An added benefit is our Top-Load with the multifunctional lid that effortlessly holds cans, 2L bottles, and gallon jugs. The ML180XL is specially designed for transporting 81 half-pint milk cartons plus space for ice packs.
Don’t forget about upgrading your trash management system to meet all new safety guidelines.
Solutions for Meeting the New Normal
As students and staff adjust to changes in the fall of 2020, we have the solutions you need to meet guidelines and transition into the new normal while keeping your students, educators, and staff safe. It will be a balancing act, but with a plan and the right tools, you’ll be able to meet your budget as well as the guidelines for nutrition, food safety, and social distancing.