Regulations surrounding new federal dietary laws and the nutritional lunches schools must now serve kids will impact foodservice kitchen design and equipment selection in the future. At the same time, many high schools are building separate commercial kitchens to satisfy a growing demand for culinary education.
College students already demand better-tasting, more wholesome foods. Now the parents of K-12 students and even some high school students are "rising up" to join the movement, according to Greg Christian, founder and CEO of Beyond Green, a sustainable foodservice consultancy. "Right now there is little connection between the kids and the lunch ladies. They just get handed a plate of food that's supposed to follow the law and that's it," he says.
Part of Christian's mission — and that of many other consultants and better-for-you food advocates — is to re-establish the dialogue among students, the people making the food, and the food suppliers. "Basically we are teaching school foodservice staff to learn how to cook again."
In the kitchen, Christian supplies workers with sharp knives, new training and suggestions on how to use foodservice equipment for multiple applicatins. He has also helped school foodservice cooks learn new techniques such as braising and preparing many meatless meals. Outside the kitchen, he has helped operators build gardens for not just growing their own food but also as a learning platform for the students. "Many kids don't even know what certain vegetables are supposed to look like and how they grow," he says. "With onsite gardens, kids can sample the new foods as well as play an active role in the feeding of themselves and the school at large."
At the high school level, some are building brand new commercial kitchens for expanded culinary programs, according to Tim Stafford, FCSI, principal of the Stafford Design Group Inc. This means added work opportunities for everyone in the equipment supply chain.
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