Tips and Tricks

Presentation of Menu Items

• Display like colored fruits separately on the service line for visual impact


• Use contrasting colors when displaying food. (i.e. no peaches next to mandarin oranges)


• Replace food containers when they are 1/3 full


• Cut foods into kid-friendly shapes. Example: cucumber wheels, berries in a 5.5 oz. transluscent cup with a dot of  non-dairy whipped topping


• Use 5.5 oz cups for cut produce so students can ‘grab n go’


• Create a plate of what a complete meal looks like and display it on the line


• Use risers to elevate foods or create your own risers. What can you   

   use to create your own risers?


•Blocks of wood,  upside down foam bowl, anything stable to place under a  

  container to tip the product towards the customer.


• Don’t leave empty wells. If you have space and enough food, repeat your meal items again  in a ABC-ABC pattern


• Pair produce with its dip/dressing, like cut celery and ranch dressing


• Remove all labels of fruit before displaying


• No one likes a lone product, like the last chef salad


• Display more cartons of white milk than flavored milk


• Pull fruit from out from under the sneeze guard, put in basket and maybe  

  near the register


• Place the healthiest entree first. These items have an 11% advantage of being selected




• Use cool or appealing labels to describe foods.



- "Immune boosting Kale"

- “X-ray vision carrots”

- “protein-packed chick peas”


• Change item titles to match what’s popular in pop culture. Ex. Breakfast includes Olaf Oatmeal and  Elsa Egg Scramble (from the movie Frozen)


• Celebrate National recognition days like National Eat Your Vegetables Day.You can find these on Wikipedia


• Pay attention to how you write out menu items


Example: A chicken patty on a whole-grain bun is now an "oven baked chicken sandwich"


• Consider making magnets for your menus and doing away with paper


• Add a “QR code” to menus. High school students put them on their lockers and parents on their fridge


• Build in choice. More choices makes kids feel empowered in making the  decision


• Make sure the most recent breakfast and lunch menu is on your district website


Cafeteria Environment


• Decorate the cafeteria.


• Hang posters, or create a theme around the school mascot, etc.


• Avoid Halo effect-when an association is made to something unrelated to another


  o Ex. Dirty mop water in cafeteria with no lights gives the appearance the cafeteria is dirty and dingy. 


    If the room is bright, clean and inviting, students will have decided it will taste that way




• Send letters home and invite parents to stop in the cafeteria


• Be open for the schools’ open house


• Serve a meal at a PTO/A meeting




• Ask students what they want in their cafeteria (colors, tables set-up)


• Ask students for menu item ideas and then name them after the student with the idea (i.e. Katie's Chicken Pot Pie" , John B's Super Smoothie)


• Allow the student to be the chef by setting up a spice station. It’s cheap, easy, and empowering




• Use these slogans with staff:


Remember: “eye appeal is buy appeal”, “Eat the rainbow”, “people eat with their eyes”


• Encourage the use of verbal prompts


Ex.“Take the apple for later”, “Free fruit comes with that meal”, ”Do you want a salad with that pizza?”


• Build a rapport with students. If staff hasn’t seen a student at breakfast in a few   days,ask why. Or say “we’ve missed you at breakfast”


• Your employees represent your program. Help them to look their best

  o Encourage wearing aprons fully and not halfway and around their waist

  o Purchase collared shirts and pair with the apron for a professional look

  o Print names and logos on the shirts. And give staff a choice of colors


• Train staff to provide great customer service.

o Greet students with a nice smile and look them in the eye

o Greet students and staff by name when possible

o Treat all students equally and with respect and courtesy

o Show a positive attitude of care, concern, and helpfulness

o Incentivize exhibiting good customer service w/ a points system & rewards like $10 gift cards