From the line: Dishing up successful meal strategies @ Waltham Public Schools

Part Three – Avoid Menu Fatigue & Create a Flavor Adventure

We’re back again talking with April Liles, R.D., S.N.S., of Waltham Public Schools in Waltham, Mass., where she directs the nutrition program for 5,800 K-12 students. The district (#Gohawks!) includes nine schools plus a new, K-1 dual-language school, each with a full-service kitchen that serves breakfast and lunch. Average Daily Participation (ADP) for breakfast is 20 percent the ADP for lunch is 68 percent.

This is Part Three of a four-part Q&A about this Incredible School Breakfast & Lunch program.


Eggs In Schools: Are most of your students adventuresome when it comes to trying new foods and flavors?

April: If you prepare good foods that taste good consistently, then your students are more apt to try new recipes and flavors when offered. They build trust in your program and confidence that the flavors will be likeable. Also taste tests, samples and Try it out Tuesdays or Thursdays are ways to get kids to experiment with their taste buds. Or does it vary by grade level? No, this is consistent in K-12.


Eggs In Schools: How do you use pop-ups during meal service?

April: This is my FAVORITE new concept to share. The POP-UP! You likely have all heard the buzz-buzz-buzz over these pop-up shops and pop-up eateries. Well this concept brings the pop-up trend right into your cafeterias by offering you an avenue to showcase new recipes, ethnic dishes, flavor profiles, farm to school ingredients, school garden harvests…really anything you want to showcase and/or just TRY OUT before it hits a menu cycle or a serving line. You can use a cart, serving line or even just a table.


Eggs In Schools: Do they increase meal participation?

April: Yes. The pop-up creates excitement and something for the students to look forward to.


Eggs In Schools: LTOs (Limited Time Offerings) aren’t something you think of in school foodservice. How do you execute them?

April: LTOs can be done so many different ways. This really should be customized to your school, menu and student demographics. We menu LTOs for only one week. We always have it offered on the same lines. We market with line signs and social media.


Eggs In Schools: What types of breakfast foods do you serve for an LTO? 

April: Well we have done yogurt sundae parfaits, wicked wacky waffle, yogurt parfait bars, smoothies, smoothie bowls.


Eggs In Schools: Are they related to holidays or school activities?

April: Yes, whenever you can tie in a holiday or event like the Super Bowl or school-based activity your LTO or promotion can ride on the coattail of that momentum. This is actually an excellent time to showcase a new item, recipe, etc.


Eggs In Schools: How do you promote LTOs, pop-ups, etc., to students and staff?

April: Most all of our outreach these days is electronic. For students and parents – Facebook, twitter, Snapchat and emails home to the parent community.


Eggs In Schools: How do you avoid menu fatigue?

April: My advice here is to spend A LOT of time on your menu planning. Do not hurry over it or rush it. Do not just menu something because you have too much inventory or it’s a cut and paste from last month. You have to work on it each month. Work hard on it. Try new ideas. Be creative. Prioritize it. Over and over and over again, this process cannot be overlooked. You have to put the work in to get the results. Look at daily ADPs, production sheets and find out what your customers really want. Get out of the office and into the cafeterias and discover what the kids are thinking about, talking about it and posting on social media. The answer to your menu or recipe fatigue problems is right in front of you in your own school kitchens and cafeterias. You just have to put the work in. 


Watch for the final part of our Q&A with April Liles for more thoughts about the rave reviews students and staff give to the Waltham Public Schools foodservice program and how eggs contribute to their success.

Next up: Build a Breakfast Bar and “They Will Come!”

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 

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


2018-03-07 16:02:03