The public high school in Coppell, Texas, became overcrowded when enrollment reached 3,500 students in grades 9 through 12. In response, the Coppell Independent School District (ISD) moved 1,000 ninth graders to an existing middle school building in August of 2018 and renamed it Coppell High School Ninth Grade Campus. Meanwhile, Coppell ISD built a new middle school across town for all sixth, seventh and eighth graders, called Middle School West.
“Overcrowding was due to growth in the district, and our schools weren’t built for that capacity,” says Jean Mosley, MS, RD, nutrition director for Coppell ISD. The suburban Dallas school district continues to attract families who want their children to attend the area’s top-ranked schools.
The foodservice goal for both schools was to increase student participation by offering more food choices and a comfortable yet lively dining area. Neither school participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
“We can run a more sustainable, self-supporting program without being involved in the program,” Mosley says. “Of course, we incorporate most of the NSLP’s nutritional guidelines and practices. We’re just a little more lenient with whole grain and sodium compliance requirements.”
About the Project
- Coppell Independent School District (ISD) total enrollment: 12,895 students
- Coppell ISD Schools: 10 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, 2 high schools, 1 ninth-grade campus, 1 alternative campus
- National Program participation: Elementary schools on National School Lunch Program and 10% free and reduced-price participation; middle and high schools not on the program
- Owner: Coppell Independent School District, Coppell, Texas
- Nutrition director: Jean Mosley, MS, RD
- Executive chef: Helen Duran
- Child nutrition manager, Coppell High School Ninth Grade Campus: Shawn Carnes
- Child nutrition manager, Coppell Middle School West: Sandra Benton
- Architect, Coppell High School Ninth Grade Campus: Corgan, Dallas: Keith Cummins, senior associate
- Architect, Coppell Middle School West: Corgan: Erin Bossart, senior associate
- Interior design: Corgan
- Foodservice design consultant: Foodservice Design Professionals, Dallas: Lance Brooks, principal
- Equipment dealer, Coppell High School Ninth Grade Campus: Edward Don & Co., San Angelo, Texas: Collin Jost
- Equipment dealer, Coppell Middle School West: Oswalt Restaurant Supply, Oklahoma City: Lloyd Crockett, CFSP
- Construction: NorthStar Builders Group, Coppell, Texas
Ninth Grade Campus
As part of the renovation, the existing kitchen and servery were converted into a servery and convenience store. This allowed the project team to build a new, larger kitchen behind the existing building. Due to this approach, construction of the kitchen began with no interruption of the existing kitchen service. Once school was on break for the summer, the existing space was demolished and replaced with the current servery design.
“The kitchen is designed to provide dedicated spaces for each zone to minimize cross traffic and minimize staff steps from one area to the next, says Lance Brooks, principal, Foodservice Design Professionals (FDP) in Dallas.
“FDP uses the ‘follow the food’ theory to lay out kitchens,” Brooks says. Deliveries arrive at the receiving door. Staff take menu ingredients into a walk-in cooler/freezer or a dry storage room and later from storage to the bakery area or cold production area.
In the bakery area, two double-stack convection ovens and a fryer battery support menu item preparation. The cold production space contains a 20-quart mixer that prepares dough for cookies and breads. The hot prep area includes a fryer, two convection ovens, two convection steamers, an induction range and a 40-gallon tilt braising pan. “Staff use a blast chiller to bring food quickly to the correct temperatures that meet safety regulations,” Brooks says.
Staff place prepared menu items into pass-thru refrigerators and heated cabinets. Culinary staff working on the serving line can then easily access these menu items before placing them on the line.
One serving line contains traditional menu items offered on a four-week rotation. Menu offerings include hamburgers, chicken nuggets, spaghetti and filled tortillas. For students who order the tortillas, staff portion ingredients held in serving wells and place the menu items on the plates before handing them over to the consumer. Students help themselves to fresh fruit and vegetables.
Another serving line features rotating, build-your-own menu items that change daily. Themes include mashed potatoes, burritos, nachos, pasta and Asian items. Students can select fresh fruit and vegetables here as well.
Pans holding the food on the lines are slightly smaller than standard-size pans, which requires the staff to replace the menu items frequently and in turn keeps items fresh throughout service. With the use of hot/frost countertops, staff can present and display food options directly on the counter surface. “Food guards maximize the vertical display of the serving counter,” Brooks says.
Students selecting menu items at the grab-and-go line select daily specialty salads, protein boxes and sandwiches.
The addition of a convenience store with a coffee bar helps drive sales over and above servery sales. Sitting adjacent to the servery, the c-store’s walk-in cooler displays bottled beverages. Racks and ambient and refrigerated merchandisers sit along 40 linear feet and display salads, assorted pastries, chips and snacks. Students can order coffee drinks, including espresso, at the 18-foot-long beverage counter. In addition, a 10-foot-long wall display showcases impulse sales items such as cookies and protein bars.
An increased number of seats, which resulted from a dining room expansion, also contributes to students’ appreciation of the dining program. Participation reached 70 percent this spring.
Coppell High School Ninth Grade Campus
- Enrollment and dining participation: 1,000 ninth graders; nearly 800 eat lunch at school (13% receive free and reduced price meals and 87% purchase a la carte menu items)
- Opened: August 2018
- Scope of project: Renovation of servery, dining room, addition of kitchen and c-store
- Size: 5,644 sq. ft., including servery, 2,350 sq. ft. and c-store, 1,056 sq. ft.
- Seats: 350 indoors; 60 outdoors
- Average check: $3.75 for traditional lunch; $1.90 for a la carte
- Total annual sales: Not yet available
- Transactions: 125 breakfast; 800 lunch
- Hours: Breakfast, 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.; Lunch, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
- Menu specialties: Breakfast waffles; traditional lunch lines feature filled tortillas, hamburgers and chicken; daily make-your-own food-themed bars feature mashed potatoes, burritos, nachos, pasta and Asian menu items; daily specialty salads, protein boxes and sandwiches; c-store offers a coffee bar and assorted pastries; chips and snacks; assorted beverages
- Staff: 6 employees
- Total project cost: $25 million
- Equipment investment: $705,000
- Website: coppellisd.com
Middle School West
Roughly 1,000 students attend the new Coppell Middle School West. Menu program participation reached 75 percent this spring. In contrast to the ninth-grade campus, this kitchen sits inside the school building. After food deliveries arrive at the school, staff place the individual items in a walk-in cooler, walk-in freezer and dry storage. The kitchen also contains a disposer and a conveyor dishmachine.
In the production area, staff prepare menu items with the support of a pair of convection ovens, a pair of convection steamers, a 40-gallon tilt braising pan, a fryer and a combi oven. A blast chiller allows staff to quickly chill hot menu items such as taco meat, soups and sauces before placing them into a refrigerator until it is time to serve them.
In preparation for service, staff place menu items in two pass-thru heated cabinets and a pass-thru refrigerator on each side of a line. Serving staff can access the food from the serving line area and place the menu items on serving lines containing hot wells, heated shelves and frost tops. Air-screen display units that hold beverages and impulse cold items sit on all lines.
Twenty-five-foot-long serving lines sit in a parallel configuration. One line features daily build-your-own bars with themes such as mashed potatoes, burritos, nachos, pasta and Asian menu items. Two other lines offer more traditional entrees such as filled tortillas, hamburgers and chicken. “Each line has the same counter components to allow the staff to change or duplicate menu options,” Brooks says.
Interestingly, more students want to go through the traditional line, Mosley notes. “This is probably because the food at the build-your-own line costs a little more because we’re featuring value-added products such as higher-priced chicken.”
Students can take fruits and vegetables at all three lines.
This school’s special feature, a bistro, offers menu items during lunch and afternoon hours. “The glass storefront walls allow the space to be visible from a learning area space, which includes stairs leading up to the upper level and an open library located along a hallway,” Mosley says.
A dedicated walk-in cooler holds food and beverages for the bistro. Just before service begins, staff remove what they need for the bistro’s service stations.
Students can select salads, sandwiches, yogurt and parfaits from refrigerated merchandising cases covered by air screens. Staff cook pizza and cookies in the combi ovens and sandwiches in panini grills. The bistro’s countertop surface stone contains a dual hot/frost top surface that allows staff to present hot or cold menu items. “The continuous countertop gives the servery an ambience similar to college dining and upscale food courts,” says Brooks.
The bottled beverage cooler’s location and rear-loading doors allow minimal relocation of beverages from the cooler to the servery area. “The location also offers maximum visibility of beverages to students, which mimics a c-store application,” Mosley says.
As the foodservice staff and students become accustomed to their new dining operation, they appreciate that the new design brings enhanced efficiency and an array of menu options. This allows Coppell ISD not only to provide students with the nutrition and energy they need for maximum productivity and well-being, but also to integrate dining and education.
Coppell Middle School West
- Enrollment and dining participation: 1,282 sixth, seventh and eighth graders; 900 eat at school (13% receive free and reduced-price meals; 87% purchase a la carte menu items)
- Opened: August 2018
- Scope of project: New build, including servery, dining area, kitchen and bistro
- Size: 4,500 sq. ft., including 1,500 sq. ft. servery and 540 sq. ft. bistro
- Seats: 300 indoors; 60 outdoors
- Average check: $3.25 for traditional lunch; $1.80 for a la carte menu items; breakfast is only offered at a la carte pricing.
- Total annual sales: Not yet available
- Transactions: 900 daily
- Hours: Breakfast, 7:15 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.; lunch, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Menu specialties: Breakfast waffles; traditional lunch lines feature filled tortillas, hamburgers and chicken; daily make-your-own food-themed bars feature mashed potatoes, burritos, nachos, pasta and Asian items; Bistro offers specialty salads, protein boxes, sandwiches, fresh-baked cookies and breakfast
- Staff: 7 employees
- Total project cost: $48 million
- Equipment investment: $755,000
- Website: coppellisd.com