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BEST PRACTICES FOR K-12 MEAL PROGRAMS

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GRAB AND GO SCHOOL LUNCH SOLUTIONS

After school buildings closed due to COVID-19, grab and go meals became the star pupil. Providing nutritious foods to students who count on school meals, while keeping everyone safe, remains the goal even today.

While some schools are operating a traditional curbside meal program and some are offering take-home meal kits, each school is focusing on keeping food fresh to make their foodservice operations as efficient as possible. Here are some ways to improve upon your K-12 school meal program you may not have considered.

INCLUDE INSTRUCTIONS FOR PERISHABLES

When adding perishable items in your grab and go meals, include notes to inform students and guardians on how best to store and consume meals. Keep cold and hot items separate with instructions on how to heat hot foods, when to refrigerate cold items and best by/expiration dates.

You can also include instructions on how to recycle food containers and packaging. Need some options for more sustainable food packaging? Check out our Bare® by Solo® Eco-Forward® Bagasse Hinged Lid Containers or ProPlanet™ by Dart® Mineral-Filled Polypropylene Hinged Lid Containers that are both soak-resistant and lessen your impact on the environment.

Overall, providing instructions like those above will not only ensure your students get the most nutrition and freshness out of their meals, but will also help reduce food and/or packaging waste.

USE CONTAINERS THAT HELP MAINTAIN FRESHNESS

Keeping food fresh means less waste and healthier meals with maximized nutritional value. Choosing the right containers to maintain freshness is a big part of that process!

When packing meals, consider compartmented containers that will separate and serve the perfect amount of veggies, fruits and other sides while preventing leaks and spills. Containers with multiple compartments also keep food separate for even the pickiest of eaters.

The best way to maintain food integrity with containers is to find an option that follows the 3Ps: protect, preserve and perform. Take notes from restaurant’s that have perfected delivery to help keep food in your school meal program fresh and safe during distribution.

SERVE STUDENT FAVORITES

Some K-12 foodservice operators have found that meals that were favored by students prior to the COVID-19 pandemic have made an easy transition to the grab and go service style.

For example, a cold sandwich served with fresh fruit and veggies or a bento box inspired snack can package well when utilizing portion containers and/or cup inserts.

OFFER MULTIPLE MEALS AND SERVINGS TOGETHER

Offering multiple meals or bulk servings together can save time for both the staff who are packing meals and parents who are picking them up. You might even be able to condense distribution days while providing students with more nutritious meals throughout the week.

For example, a Tuesday distribution can include two breakfast and lunch meals whereas a Thursday distribution can include four breakfast and lunch meals.

Another option includes providing each student with bulk servings with multiple days of lunch meals packed in a single container, which can help to decrease the amount of labor and packaging that goes into distribution.

As your school’s foodservice operator, it can be stressful trying to plan and prepare your students’ meals while keeping in mind the best and safest way to serve them.

Dart is here help you find the right solution. Reach out to one of our expert sales reps to check availability and to learn more.

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