We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that’s why breakfast in the classroom programs are becoming more popular around the country. Irving ISD in Texas has taken it to the next level with their “Beyond the Cafeteria” initiative. They introduced hallway buffet carts and grab-and-go carts for breakfast, rather than bringing breakfast into the classroom. While they started with a breakfast in the classroom program, their grab-and-go and buffet carts have increased meal participation and efficiency even more.
Irving ISD conducted their breakfast in the classroom program from 2002-2013 in the elementary schools with positive results, but challenges arose that needed to be addressed. The program was extremely successful in increasing participation, but they found that it was labor intensive, accountability in record keeping was an issue, and there was a high food cost associated with the program.
Hallway Buffet Carts
In response to these issues, the district decided to introduce hallway buffet carts in their elementary schools in 2014. The carts are staffed with one food and nutrition employee, and can serve about 200 students in just 15 – 30 minutes. These carts were designed “offer vs. serve” style in order to cut down on food costs. Since the carts are only out for 30 – 40 minutes, cooling and heating equipment is not needed. To combat the accountability issue in the previous breakfast in the classroom program, they created an ID badge system to track meal participation.
Irving ISD saw tremendous results in this new system. They reduced food cost by 25% and increased their accuracy in recording meal participation. The buffet carts also increased efficiency and productivity in their kitchen staff, because employees spent less time working with the buffet carts than with the previous system. Because more students had access to the meals they wanted, Irving ISD even saw an improvement in their student’s academic performance. The carts were a win for everyone.
Hallway buffet carts were so successful in the elementary schools that the district decided to implement something similar in their middle and high schools – grab-and-go carts. These carts were also designed “offer vs. serve” style, in order to reap the same food cost savings as the hallway buffet carts. These breakfast carts can serve up to 30 students per minute. Rather than the badge collection system that the elementary schools use, the grab-and-go carts use a mobile point of sale. The POS runs on a battery powered laptop with keypads and barcode scanners.
Before the introduction of grab-and-go carts, breakfast participation percentages at Irving were in the teens and twenties. Once the carts were implemented, the district’s participation rates rose to 50% or more. The carts are run in high-traffic areas of the schools so that they reach students who typically wouldn’t go to the cafeteria for breakfast. They expect that these grab-and-go carts will increase their breakfast reimbursement by $250,000 yearly.
This district’s new approach to breakfast in the classroom has proven to be extremely successful. To find out more about Irving ISD’s breakfast carts, visit their website.
An increase in reimbursements, participation, and efficiency could benefit any district. Using a mobile point of sale on these carts can help with accurate, efficient record keeping, and will allow the carts to go where students go.
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