K-12 Dining and Foodservice Management – It’s All We Do

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At Ingenious Culinary Concepts, we’re experts in every phase of the industry, and our job is to turn your cafeteria into a more popular and profitable part of your school.

For over a decade, we’ve been in the trenches testing and perfecting what it takes to increase participation in your school breakfast and lunch programs.

From side-by-side coaching, cafeteria seating and aesthetics, to staff training and development, we have a track record of success.

There’s no “one size fits all” solution.

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The most common questions we get from school districts when they need to increase participation and boost revenue are, “Where do we start?” or “What should we do first?”

There is no simple answer to those questions. That’s why it’s imperative we start with a needs analysis to determine the best course of action for your school foodservice program. Sometimes a short phone call is all it takes. Other times, the best route is an INFORMAL analysis in up to three of your schools.

This would include a two-day visit from one of our industry experts, who will analyze your school cafeteria operation to uncover district wide “improvement opportunities.”

Trend data on student needs and preferences guide this process as special attention is given to the current quality of products and services provided (e.g., menu, customer service & engagement, overall student dining experiences, etc.).

We customize our services for your school foodservice.

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Once we determine the best course of action to get results, we provide you with all the details of our recommendations. Many factors influence this decision, such as budget, timeframe, participation goals, and size of school and staff, to name a few.

Our recommendations may include: training, proven best practices and strategies, and revamping plans for your cafeteria.

As an additional service, Ingenious Culinary Concepts can support your district’s efforts to improve at any level. The execution phase includes options for a complete or partial revamping of your cafeteria’s thematic colors, graphic design for the dining room and serving lines, seating arrangements, menu modification, enhancing food quality, service standards, and more.

Feeling

Your school cafeteria should have some type of ambience when the students arrive to it. It should feel inviting and not institutional. The signage should reflect the appropriate grade levels.

Lines that are attractive

When students go out to eat, they visit retail locations, not another school cafeteria. So you have to really step up your game if you plan to “woo” your customers.

Organization of the cafeteria

Typically, the school administration controls the setup of the cafeteria tables and chairs. Have your managers or your district office personnel conduct a walk-though of your cafeterias to identify and remove barriers.

Schools that focus on food quality and appealing menus are on the right track, but their efforts easily derail if they do not also turn a critical eye to customer service. Many kids will skip meals rather than spend any of their precious free time in an atmosphere where they feel rushed and unwelcome. A few simple changes in how the cafeteria team interacts with students can create a positive atmosphere for everyone and increase participation.

We approach training with a positive assumption. To change a culture, we first make it clear that we understand and appreciate that the team wants to deliver better service. We encourage leaders to remain open to hearing their ideas about obstacles or frustrations and find solutions together.

We improve processes. Sometimes, a process itself creates a service problem. For example, a team can focus so much on efficiency that they forget hot food should be hot and cold food should be cold. Some teams cook every hot item on the menu and pack it into warmers and put cold food on the line first thing in the morning. It may seem like working smart, but food put out at 9 a.m. turns into unappetizing iceberg burgers and warm milk by 11 a.m.

We add fun. It’s easy to fall into a rut, and that can make any cafeteria dreary. We help teams introduce theme days, simple contests, and special promotions.

Cafeteria Redesign
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Who knew a cafeteria could have ambience?

Our national student focus group data reveals students feel their cafeterias are “institutional,” “dull,” and “uninviting.” Our designers know how to spice things up in your cafeteria (outside the kitchen)!

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Cafeteria Seating
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Improving the students’ overall dining experience includes providing variety seating.

In addition to the traditional cafeteria table, combining high-top tables with bar stools or booths against the wall does wonders for a dining space. We can help you spruce up your dining spaces so students will happily join you and take a seat.

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Point of Sale (POS)
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One of the most common student complaints is, “The lines are too long!”

Even when the food is spectacular, students refuse to wait. The result? They don’t come inside to dine with us. Let Ingenious Culinary Concepts help you GO TO THEM with mobile carts/kiosks that serve as an alternative point of sale (POS).

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Staff Trainings
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An empowered staff is an effective staff.

Our courses are second to none due to their highly interactive, learner-centered, and energetic approach.

We explore real-world ideas, proven practices, and strategies that participants can implement immediately to make a difference in your foodservice.

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Consulting

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Let’s have a conversation to determine how we can help your school foodservice turn your cafeteria into a hot spot where students love to dine.

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