Your school’s lunchroom is more than a place for children to eat and socialize. While ensuring students eat a healthy meal should always be a priority, your cafeteria can be leveraged as a prime opportunity for additional student learning and engagement. Instead of rushing through to get to recess or the next class period, offering nutritional engagement opportunities encourages students to take a more active role in their lunchroom experience.
Ask a Nutrition Question of the Month, Week, or Day
Take advantage of the time students spend standing in the lunch line by encouraging nutritional learning. A quick nutritional lesson, featuring a Nutrition Question of the Month, Week, or Day, can easily be implemented using student or teacher facilitators and a whiteboard at the front of the line. As the students reach the board, your facilitators can pose the question and write down their answers to a question that focuses on nutritional values, healthy eating, and more, while encouraging a conversation throughout the line about the answers.
During the lunch period, consider an additional educational component by inviting an educator, dietitian, or nutritionist to speak with students in the lunchroom about the question and their answers. This bite-sized nutritional lesson can be facilitated monthly, weekly, or even every day.
Support Student Learning with Test Day Meals
The average student takes about ten standardized tests per year. Testing days can turn into teachable nutrition moments, by stacking the lunch menu with foods that help students focus, enhance brainpower, and support them to perform better and score higher on their tests. Create special test day menus with encouraging messages combined with explanations for how these special foods or meals will give students a brain boost for their tests.
Invite Local Chefs to Share in Meal Planning, Prep, and Presentation
Take advantage of local food-related businesses and resources within your district or neighborhood, such as restaurants and supermarkets. Consider inviting chefs or nutritional experts to host a lesson for students during their lunch periods. Whether the lesson is a healthy (and quick) cooking demonstration or another type of nutritional experience, students will be excited by the special guest and shake-up to their usual routine. You can also promote your guests by inviting them to create or contribute to the menu on the days of their visits. Most of these business owners will gladly participate in helping their local school districts and will jump at the chance to promote their business and expertise.
Promote Healthy Eating & Engagement With the Right Apps
Technology is growing at a rapid pace, and it’s now expanded to the school cafeteria. Students can download many healthy eating apps onto their phones that can help them track meals or understand nutritional requirements and intake. At Harris School Nutrition Solutions, we offer EZSchoolLunch as part of a suite of school cafeteria software solutions. EZSchoolLunch is an interactive school nutrition app that genuinely engages students in their school lunch programs by boosting participation in meal planning and offering fun, exciting real-time mealtime updates. Students can rate and rank meals with emojis, share those ratings, and more. When students have information and fun options available at their fingertips, they are more likely to take an active role in their mealtimes.
The right tools can help you get students engaged and help your administrators and food service directors speed up school lunch lines. Ready to learn more? Contact the friendly school nutrition software experts at Harris.