Meal Service Models

Choose the meal service model – or a combination of models – that works best for your school. Whatever you choose, tap into all the helpful tips below for easier preparation, timing, distribution and cleanup. 

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Classroom Meal Delivery

Preparation

  • Breakfast: School nutrition staff packs meals into coolers or insulated bags to be transported to each classroom by staff, designated students or volunteers.
  • Lunch: At the start of the school day, teachers place their student meal orders to be delivered during assigned lunch periods.

Timing

  • Breakfast: Students eat during the first 10–15 minutes of class, during morning announcements or while the teacher takes attendance or reviews lessons.
  • Lunch: Students eat as a regular part of their scheduled day in the classroom.

Distribution of Meals

  • Teachers, school nutrition staff, volunteers or designated students distribute meals to students at their desks or before they take their seats. They then record which, or how many students, eat a meal.

Cleanup

  • Students clear trash and wipe down desks. Breakfast and lunch trash can be placed in the hallway to be collected by custodial staff.

Tips

Utilize insulated bags and carts to deliver to classrooms and hallway stations.

Incorporate hot items for breakfast and lunch.

Increase participation by offering online ordering for a la carte items.

Cafeteria Pickup "Grab & Go"

Preparation

  • Foodservice staff prepare meals ahead of breakfast and lunch service
  • Students pick up their meals from the cafeteria or kiosks as they arrive to school for breakfast and are dismissed by classroom for lunch
  • Meals can be prepackaged or individually wrapped items

Timing

  • For lunch, allow 10 minutes per classroom for each class to receive their meals
  • For breakfast service, allow 10-15 minutes prior to the start of the school day

Distribution of Meals

  • School nutrition staff distributes meals and students are counted via the point of sale (POS) system in the cafeteria. If using kiosks, the count is achieved through a wireless POS or manual lists

Cleanup

  • Students clear trash and wipe down desks. Breakfast and lunch trash can be placed in the hallway to be collected by custodial staff.

Tips

Utilize 6ft spacing indicators on the floor.

Provide students with reusable lunch totes to transport meals to and from the cafeteria.

Hallway Station "Grab & Go"

Preparation

  • School nutrition staff packs meals in bags to be picked up from the cafeteria or kiosks in the hallway on the way to class
  • Offer one entrée for breakfast and two entrées for lunch
  • Have multiple kiosks set up around the building and identify access points for student meals

Timing

  • Students pick up their meals as they arrive at school. They eat breakfast at their desks in the morning for about 10-15 minutes, and eat lunch at a scheduled midday time with their class

Distribution of Meals

  • School nutrition staff distributes meals and students are counted via the point of sale (POS) system in the cafeteria. If using kiosks, the count is achieved through a wireless POS or a manual list

Cleanup

  • Students clear trash and wipe down desks. Breakfast and lunch trash can be placed in the hallway to be collected by custodial staff.

Tips

Utilize 6ft spacing indicators on the floor for students waiting in line to receive their meals.

Incorporate bento boxes into menus for easy meal service.

Use a kiosk to provide a mobile home base for meals.

Congregate Solutions, Lunch

Preparation

  • Congregate areas are prepared in advance
  • Tables are distanced 6 feet apart, students divided by classrooms
  • Offer two entrees for lunch, hot and cold
  • Utilize multiple serving lines and have meals prepackaged and ready to go

Timing

  • Students pick up their meals and return to their designated tables

Safety

  • Utilize gymnasiums, outdoor courtyards, auditoriums and cafeterias
  • Provide hand sanitizer stations
  • Purchase Plexiglass shields to divide between tables

Tips

Utilize Plexiglass cafeteria tabletop dividers.

Utilize Plexiglass countertop.

Utilize cashier plexiglass shields.

Take-Home Meals for Students

Preparation

  • Carefully choose the distribution location. This may be in the cafeteria, school lobby or even outside
  • Prepackage meals in the morning so they are ready to go upon student dismissal

Timing

  • Students pick up their meals from predetermined locations at dismissal of the school day

Safety

  • Utilize gymnasiums, outdoor courtyards, auditoriums and cafeterias
  • Carefully label meals, and ensure correct packaging for any dietary restrictions or special situations

Tips

Ensure that you have proper packaging and equipment. Use reusable cooler totes dedicated for take-home meal distribution only.

Take-home meals will work great depending on the school’s schedule per grade levels and/or students.