As buildings age, demographics change, and new trends and regulations become standardized, foodservice operators are faced with a number of challenges. Schools across the nation are focused on providing healthy, quality options for students. States are focused on making sure that the underserved youth have access to free or reduced-price meals. As issues such as wellness, hunger, and obesity have become topics of concern, schools and foodservice professionals are challenged with responding adequately.
While many schools and foodservice operators are focused on the menu (variety, healthy, quality options), operations, and cost, these same operators are also concerned with adequate kitchen and dining space. As schools face the challenge of aging infrastructure, changing demographics, and more complex needs (e.g. dietary, on-the-go options), the kitchen and dining space and overall foodservice operations have become increasingly more essential to serve students well.
The dining space needs to also be adequate for enough seating, but focus is now placed on the environment and ensuring that the space is engaging and not too institutionalized. The dining experience is now, perhaps more than ever before, becoming an integral part of the student body’s learning environment. With access to breakfast and lunch, student learning and achievement is becoming tied to school meal programs that enrich students’ educational environment.