New School Year Means New Look in TN Cafeterias

A month into this very different school year, Knox County School’s Food and Nutrition Services Department (TN) is running like a well-oiled machine. Executive Director Brett Foster said that all departments were included in the district’s re-opening plan, which contributed to the successful modifications of the school meal experience. Reminders to stay six feet apart and wear a mask can be seen all over the district, especially in the cafeterias. Staff welcomed students back with fun bulletin boards designed to make those important messages appealing to students.

The district has in-person and distance learners, something the school nutrition department has adjusted to. Positive messages are still written on containers to inspire students through the day, encouraging them to succeed and reminding them they are appreciated by their nutrition staff. They have used clamshell packaging for safer, easier transport and staff has been trained virtually on how to package each food component separately to prevent cross contamination and encourage fewer hands touching the food.

“Our department was able to share information regarding temperature checks and screening of employees, mask use, glove use and the use of clamshell containers/wrapped plastic flatware,” Foster said.

All meal components packaged separately, using clam shells for salads and individually wrapped fruits and vegetables.

By requiring meal registration for distance learners, staff have a better idea of participation with exact number of meals per site, something they learned was important in the spring when they had open meal pick-up. This fall, while menu options have been simplified, new menu items will still be introduced, said Foster. She wants students who are participating in school meals to enjoy what they are eating and says less choice does not mean less food. Offering fewer choices than normal helps to speed up students through the serving line, which helps shorten the time students might be exposed to others. Masks are required for students going through the serving line and assigned seating creates space between students. Students are encouraged to wash hands prior to eating meals and provided hand sanitizer.

While this school year looks different than others, Foster said she hopes students and families realize they are still providing the same healthy and delicious school meals they have become accustomed to. The district will continue to offer the best school meals possible to both distance and in-person students.

Blog Post Featured Image: Food service staff prepare grab and go flatware sets for students, minimizing the need to touch napkins and cutlery.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: