Plate of scrambled eggs with pepper on top being take up by silver fork

Running a school cafeteria can be challenging for multiple reasons. Between the high volumes of students that require efficient yet quality meals, budget constraints that hamper purchasing power, labor shortages in the kitchen, and pervasive supply chain limitations, getting K-12 children nutritiously fed several times a day is hard. Fortunately, with the right technology and foodservice equipment, schools can do more with less.

Supply Chain Issue Still Exist

The supply chain was disrupted almost entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic, but even as the emergency subsided, production and distribution are still slow to fully recover. In October 2022, 83 percent of schools reported foodservice supply chain issues, and relief has been slow. So, school districts must get creative with combating shortages to ensure that students can still be fed promptly while meeting required nutritional standards.

For example, some districts are leasing warehouse space to purchase more products at once so there's more inventory on hand. Similarly, districts are reformatting their menus to incorporate more ingredients that are easier to secure and cutting items that may be more challenging.

Many schools are also looking to local suppliers to supplement their shortages so they don't wait as long for deliveries. Also, local suppliers may be able to stock more items since they don't have to ship to customers across a larger area.

Scratch Cooking in Schools on the Rise

As more and more attention is focused on high-quality and nutritious meals in today's school foodservice environment, we're seeing a growing number of districts operate scratch cooking programs. While this is fantastic for students, it's difficult for directors because it works in opposition to labor shortages. Simply put, school cafeterias need staff to enact successful scratch-cooking initiatives.

Though scratch cooking requires labor, some benefits go beyond the quality and nutritional benefits of the food itself. First, raw ingredients like chicken and potatoes are often cheaper than pre-made meals. Some of these items can have a longer shelf life, so schools are under less pressure to use them immediately. Combined with high-quality ovens that don't use oil for cooking, it's much easier for districts to fulfill school nutrition guidelines on a tighter budget.

In addition, the added hours of preparation and cooking can attract more workers. Typically, school foodservice positions are part-time, making it harder to find and retain top talent. Scratch cooking turns these positions into full-time jobs. So, workers are more likely to stay on and have better job satisfaction. Overall, the switch doesn't cost any more than the old model and provides some necessary relief. It's a win-win combination.

Come By and Test Drive a Combi

Researching new cooking equipment can be time-consuming and challenging, particularly when only seeing images or reading product descriptions online. A product demonstration is a much better option, particularly for school districts. Not only can a visit to our test kitchen show the machine's capabilities up close, but it's also easier to see what kinds of dishes the equipment can prepare. Bring your team in, talk to our school equipment experts, and let us show you equipment that can make your jobs just a little easier. 

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