In-Depth Case Study of Waltham Public Schools

Part Four – Build a Breakfast Bar and “They Will Come!”

In Part Four – the final installment of our Q&A with April Liles, R.D., S.N.S., of the Waltham Public Schools in Waltham, Mass., (#Gohawks!), she discusses creative ways to build excitement around a nutrition program and increase ADP.


Eggs In Schools: What do you need to set up a breakfast bar?

April: Food, People, Equipment and a Smile! The bar is not a new concept but man oh man is it a good one. If you can just pull this off at one of your schools, or even just once a week or month the students will come. I like the tag line – If they can build it – they will COME! We are big on bars here in Waltham because they are Menu KICKERS, which means they kick up participation and sales.

Bars can present some challenges with portion sizes, line setup, flow and staff training, however if you put the time and commitment into standardizing this process, the staff will come along, and the students will really be the winners. Ideas for bars are really endless but utilizing eggs is a great start. Scrambled Egg Bars, Breakfast for Lunch Bars or Breakfast Skillet Bars are all examples. We use a potato or tater tot base, then have scrambled eggs, breakfast meats, cheeses and vegetables on the serving line to add on to the entrée or bowl. We typically have toppings to choose from as well, which include salsa, sour cream, jalapenos, etc. Having the correct equipment (pans, serving utensils) available for bars are critical in developing and standardizing your recipes


Eggs In Schools: At what grade level are students able to serve themselves? 

April: Well we do self-serve K-12, because we have the space and equipment to do this. However, this may not be the case for everyone. Start with the older grade levels first then work to your MS and elementary locations.


Eggs In Schools: What service strategies increase meal participation the most?

April: Bars, Bowls, LTOs, Pop-Ups, etc. – I would recommend trying them all. Even when you are positive you CANNOT pull off a menu concept regularly – whether it be staffing shortages, equipment needs or even just lack of time – consider running a promotion like these. I would recommend starting very small if you have never done it before, but a promotion using eggs is a great way to start.

If you have never menued smoothies or parfaits, but have wanted to try, you can start making them mini size first and serve with eggs for a Brunch for Lunch menu. Or if you want to spice up your traditional Breakfast for Lunch concept, do a promotion using Belgian waffles instead of the typical French toast stick. Or If you are feeling like you want to go big or go home ... you can try an omelet station or several and invite the school faculty and students to participate. This will help you tremendously with creating excitement about your program. It will take some planning but take this chance to standardize the process, so you can repeat it often. This will certainly increase your participation day of, but overall creates opportunities for you to connect with your customers in new ways, which helps build a up your program. Plus, it’s super FUN! Anyone that knows me knows: I like FUN!


Eggs In Schools: Obviously, you’ve tried a lot of different things with your students and staff from pop-ups to LTOs, is there anything you’ve tried that didn’t work?

April: Oh yes. Failure is success in progress. If at first you don’t succeed, keep on truckin!!!

Why? We charged the wrong price, we did not market enough to students, our recipe did not taste good, and we tried an LTO in the wrong spot in our serving lines. Really, we have made a lot of mistakes. The take away is to evaluate your mistakes and try again.


Eggs In Schools: If you could implement only one new idea during breakfast service, what would you suggest starting with?

April: If you are not using eggs currently, start now! Eggs pair well with fruit, veggies and whole grains and are a great way to include protein for breakfast while meeting the grain requirement!


Eggs In Schools: Finally, if a school could only add one egg dish or product to their menu or inventory, which one would you suggest and why?

April: I would say start with a scrambled egg base recipe and try to develop at least five different NEW recipes from this. Add flavor through herbs, sauces, proteins, veggies and you easily find yourself with many new options to try.


A big thanks to April and all her eggciting ideas!


Read Part One of the Q&A: Setting a Program Philosophy and Reaching Your Goals

Read Part Two of the Q&A: Bowls Boost ADP & Hard-Boiled Ideas 

Read Part Three of the Q&A: Avoid Menu Fatigue & Create a Flavor Adventure 

To listen to the SNA “Protein Power” Webinar, which is the inspiration for this Q&A, CLICK 


2018-03-08 14:09:07