Close your eyes for a minute and imagine walking into your children’s school cafeteria or your workplace cafeteria. What picture forms in your mind? How inviting is the space? Now consider sharing this “picture” with someone that hasn’t been to your cafeteria… What messages are shared with this picture?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The "picture" your cafeteria presents says a lot about your food service and commitment to healthy children. Is your cafeteria “saying” the right things to help create the right first impression?

If you want a better picture, Pro•Team Foodservice Advisors offers fresh eyes on site evaluations to help you see your services in a new light. Hilltop Elementary School in Inver Grove Heights, MN, took advantage of the Fresh Eyes Experience, and ended up with a fresh new perspective. Cathi Krick, Inver Grove Community Schools district director of food services, brought in Jean Ronnei to take a look, and help the district see what the customers see.

Ronnei observed meal services, talked with students and staff, and looked at all aspects of the meal program and services provided. This is one of the before pictures:

 Initial picture of the service area.

Initial picture of the service area.

First impression – very generic, white and sterile looking. More importantly, this picture really doesn’t invite you to eat here. The food may be really good –but this picture doesn’t tell you anything about the food here. What would be more exciting for elementary kids and support healthy eating? Ronnei also dug into the menu, policies and procedures so she would have a deeper understanding of the business end of the operations. Ronnei compiled her assessment, and discussed with district administration the importance cafeteria set up and environment. All aspects were looked at, and Hilltop’s updated cafeteria is a byproduct of that process, District Superintendent Bernhardson noted in a recent news article.

It is important to note that the school staff wanted the school’s cafeteria to reflect the healthy food being served there, and this made it a priority to focus on fresh fruits and vegetables. This opinion resonated with administration and staff, and the superintendent said it best: “how you have your cafeteria set up, and how inviting it is and how fresh and exciting it is, plays a role with kids and their desire to make choices that maybe typically they wouldn’t.” 

Ronnei worked with district staff during the entire experience, and was able to provide advice on implementation ideas. Being open to the assessment of a stranger (who happens to be an expert in the field) can be intimidating, but Cathi Krick’s willingness to get a fresh look at her program led to some great results (which we will share in the next blog).  So, let’s take a look at the after picture – and it really does have a lot to say!

 After Fresh Eyes advice.

After Fresh Eyes advice.

 Children enjoy the bright new service area.

Children enjoy the bright new service area.

If you are looking for advice to help your food service program, Pro•Team’s foodservice experts are here to help. For more information, contact Kymm Mutch at (414) 331-4412 or Kymm@proteamdvisors.com. Visit our website at www.proteamadvisors.com.