IN School Cafeteria Transforms Into Blizzard Beach Party

The food service professionals at New Castle Community School Corporation (Indiana) are serving up nutritious school meals with creativity and personality. Whether dressing up in crazy costumes or decorating the cafeteria, school nutrition professionals are providing an exciting environment to welcome students.

On January 26, students celebrated the Blizzard Beach Party to have some summer sun during the coldest month of the year! New Castle Director of Food Service Dee Orick said the winter bash luau idea started as a way to help get students through the dog days of winter. Schools menu items are often decorated to go along with the theme of the day. For the Blizzard Beach Party, cheese and turkey croissant sandwiches are turned into crabs and fruit cups get an island update, complete with tiny cocktail umbrellas. There are four separate lines of meals in the cafeteria, which never run the same options.

“Years ago, the high school had four lines with all the same items,” said Orick. “We’ve changed that to include much more fun and exciting menu items, like build-your-own sandwich, a Mexican line, home-style cooking lines and pizzas made-from-scratch. The high school kind of serves as a guinea pig to see what will be successful elsewhere in the district. They help give us new ideas for lines and help expose the younger children in the district to more exciting menu items, in some cases food they’ve never tried outside of school.”

The nutrition department is no stranger to events, according to Orick, who said they have a calendar filled with creative events, holidays and sports-related celebrations throughout the year, including the Apple Crunch and a big Halloween bash.

Orick, also vice president of the Indiana School Nutrition Association, said the food service staff go above and beyond when it comes to decorating the cafeterias and dressing up on special days.

New Castle Schools (IN) food service professionals dress in their best luau gear for the 2018 Blizzard Beach Party fun!

“My staff is very great at getting creative,” she said. “They often take trips after Halloween to the costume store and stock up on amazing outfits that they’ll use throughout the year. They really get into it and it makes the students excited about themed days as well.”

For Thanksgiving, her staff prepares a traditional holiday dinner with all the fixings, just in case one of their students won’t have that at home. Last year, members of the kitchen staff dressed as Native Americans and Pilgrims, again bringing smiles to the faces of the children they feed.

For School Lunch Hero Day, it’s not uncommon to see a food service employee swoop by in their cape, said Orick. They are a staff that truly likes to have fun, making healthy meals for the students of New Castle.


Schools Don’t Let Fall Break Sideline Lunch Week Celebrations

Fulton County Schools in Atlanta (GA) didn’t let their Columbus Day holiday break get in the way of celebrating the importance of National School Lunch Week (NSLW). Even though schools were closed October 9-13, Fulton County honored NSLW October 16-20 with a whole week of exciting events and school meals. Roughly 7.9 million healthy  school lunches are prepared for more than 91,000 Fulton County students each year.


“School lunches are healthier than ever, with more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and less fat and sodium,” said Alyssia Wright, executive director of the district’s School Nutrition Program. “National School Lunch Week helps us educate parents and students about all the benefits of our lunch program, and the appealing choices we offer.” Read more…

Scratch Cooking in Schools, Just Like Mom Used to Make

Celebrating one of the great new trends in school cafeterias, National School Lunch Week (October 9-13) is highlighting the incorporation of scratch cooking to lunch menus! As part of the “Recipes for Success” theme, we’re featuring delicious looking scratch recipes, like a Hearty Vegetable Soup from a Texas lunchroom and a homemade Arroz con Pollo and Gazpacho Soup dish from a cafeteria in Vermont on the blog and on Tray Talk Facebook. Read more…

School Starts Again With A Big Welcome Back To The Cafeteria!

School nutrition professionals are celebrating the start of the 2017-2018 academic year by educating students about new technology and menu options and creating a welcoming atmosphere for them as they walk through the cafeteria. Welcome back signs are hung and decorations line the walls!

Summer months are often dedicated to perfecting recipes and staff training to bring  new and exciting things to student menus come August/September!  Read more…

Specialty Equipment Helps CA District Serve 24,000 School Meals A Day

Students in Modesto City Schools (MCS) in California started classes last week, but school nutrition professionals had been preparing for the new school year all summer long. Something exciting was in store, helping to improve the more than 24,000 meals made daily – new equipment for their specialized bakery.  Think about 24,000 meals in terms of a restaurant – what kind of facility is needed to produce that many meals every day? Read more…

School Lunch Pros Take Flavor to the Next Level

Atlanta (GA) was the host city of this year’s School Nutrition Association Annual National Conference. It was very exciting to hear about so many great things going on in cafeterias in the state and across the country.

During an educational session titled “Shake It Up School Nutrition,” GA Department of Education guest speakers Sarah Combs and Paige Holland spoke about the challenges that face school nutrition professionals when it comes to providing healthier foods that still appeal to children. Read more…

Student Farmers Contribute to Success of Healthy School Meals

One Wisconsin school district is taking Farm to School to the next level! With the help of school nutrition professionals, science and math teachers and the Future Farmers of America, students in the School District of Holmen have helped raise their own chickens, grow their own crops on donated land and harvest from hydroponic greenhouses. At the helm of each project, Nutrition Services Supervisor Michael Gasper has helped organize Holmen’s Farm to School program into the great success it is today. In addition to student-grown and raised foods, he also selects produce and meats from local Wisconsin farms for school menus. Read more…

Menu Planning for More Vegetarian Options in Jefferson County Schools

A brave middle school student presented a need for more vegetarian options to the Jefferson County School Board in Kentucky. The plea, which Nutrition Service Center Manager Dan Ellnor said was “heartfelt and well researched,” made the district take a closer look at vegetarianism as a food service policy. Vegetarian options would not only increase the number of healthy, fresh options, but it would help entice students and staff who wouldn’t otherwise purchase school meals. Read more…