Wednesday, 6 February 2013

10 benefits of adding extra servery space in schools

I specialise in providing permanent kitchen and servery solutions for schools to help tackle a number of issues surrounding their food provision. Here's a list of my top 10 benefits of adding extra servery space in schools, based on my experience of providing PKL Food Cubes to schools across the country. I've backed it up with some info and quotes from the three most recent Food Cube projects I've worked on - enjoy!

1. Reduce queue times

Adding an additional servery area can significantly reduce queueing times. By making it quicker and easier for pupils to buy food, more are encouraged to do so.

When I was involved in our Food Cube project at Oasis Academy near Bristol, their primary reason for wanting a Cube was to reduce queues. "We manage facilities in over 30 schools now. Our experience was that some were struggling to manage the queues and pupils don't like waiting when they are hungry. We wanted to find a way to speed up the serving process and give pupils what they wanted with minimum fuss." Neil Porter of BAM FM told us.

At Cucina's Food Cube at Bexley Business Academy, my client Tony Ridgewell, the food and beverage manager, told me, "It’s playing a strong role in helping to reduce queues at key times"

2. Ease pressure on the main dining hall
By locating an extra servery space elsewhere in the school grounds, it eases congestion in the main dining hall and makes it easier for pupils to buy food quickly and efficiently without creating a bottleneck.

"I think it's great that it has completely taken away the congestion in the main dining hall. The students seem to purchase more than before, as they are passing by the location of the Cube and not having to come back inside to purchase their goods." Lucy Horsman, the Kitchen Manager at Oasis Academy told us.

3. Improve stay on site
Many of my clients have come to me with concerns over pupils leaving site during breaks and making use of local takeaways. By adding an additional serving area within school grounds and making it quicker and more convenient to grab food at school, pupils are less likely to want to leave site. 

Following the Food Cube installation for Cucina at Bexley Business Academy, client Tony Ridgewell told me, "It is encouraging pupils to stay on site rather than leave the school at lunchtime".

4. Increase choice of food
Increasing servery space not only enables schools to sell more food, but also to offer a wider variety of foods. In my experience, being able to offer a wider choice of foods is a key factor in making school meals appeal to a larger number of pupils, and therefore increase sales.

Many schools I've worked with have used our Food Cubes to serve fresh sandwiches, wraps, paninis, hot pasta, bakery products, fruit and drinks, complementing the other meal offerings available in the main dining hall.

5. Increase catering revenue

Our Food Cubes have been proven to significantly increase catering revenue in all schools where they have been installed. With smaller queues, an additional location to buy from, and more choice, school food becomes a much more appealing option for pupils, resulting in more pupils buying food, and more food being purchased by those who do.

At Marden High School, our Food Cube resulted in a 48% rise in food sales, while at Cucina's Food Cube at Bexley Business Academy, the Cube has generated over £500 extra revenue per week.

Barbara Patterson, Catering Services Manager at North Tyneside Council, said of our Food Cube at Marden High School, "It has really helped to improve service, increase income and reduce queuing time for students."

6. Encourage more pupils to have school meals
By making school meals a quicker and easier option, the installation of additional servery space encourages more pupils to buy food at school.

At Oasis Academy near Bristol, 30% of pupils now prefer to use the Food Cube, and school meal uptake has drastically increased. Pupil feedback was positive, with one saying "It's very convenient for us to buy our sandwiches especially when we are outside in the summer playing football."

7. Raise the profile of the school catering service
Installing an additional servery unit elsewhere in the school grounds makes the catering service visible to pupils who may normally avoid the dining hall. Locating an extra servery out in the playground or yard has been particularly successful at raising the profile and visibility of the catering service in projects I've overseen. The resulting increased usage of catering facilities in turn gets pupils talking about the food and drink offering and creates a real buzz within the school.

At Oasis Academy, Neil Porter told us that having a bright-coloured servery unit out in the playground is encouraging more pupils to use the catering service. He said,
"It's a little bit novel. Children seem to like that."

8. Improve pupils' health and concentration

One of the issues I've come across time and again is the struggle to get pupils eating more healthily. By supporting stay on site policies, additional servery areas can enable schools to offer a wider choice of nutritious food and help get pupils eating better at school. This can have a direct influence on behaviour and concentration levels in the classroom.

9. Improved working environment for catering staff
Extra servery space means fewer queues, calmer, happier customers, and therefore a nicer, less stressful working environment for catering staff.

10. Benefits for teaching and support staff
We've had great feedback from teaching and support staff as well as pupils and catering staff. They've found that additional servery space benefits them too, including a teacher at Oasis Academy who told us, "It's great that I can buy my lunch whilst keeping an eye on the students when on lunchtime duty."

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