Fresh Perspectives on Student Meals

Serving Up The Good Stuff
Posted on 11/01/2023
Lunch crew Oak RidgeAs a crucial part of any educational institution, the school's food services department plays a pivotal role in shaping students' experiences and nourishing their bodies. With 48 dedicated personnel on the team, Royal Oak Schools Food Services Department ensures that students receive nutritious meals throughout the day. This team includes full-time staff as well as substitutes to maintain consistent service. The staff is shared across all school levels.

High School: A team of 17 professionals manages the high school kitchen, ensuring students can access quality meals.
Middle School: A team of 12 staff members oversees the middle school kitchen, offering a diverse range of food options.
Elementary Schools: The elementary schools benefit from 13 staff members who ensure younger students receive nutritious meals.

Our food services department has made significant enhancements to the menu. Building upon the successes of previous years, the department has added freshly grilled burgers, fresh chicken grilled to perfection, freshly cut fruit, salads, and various plant-based proteins. A notable improvement is the introduction of grilled chicken for elementary schools, prepared in the same fashion as the grilled hamburgers. This involves grilling boneless, skinless chicken breasts at the high school, freezing them, and shipping them to elementary schools for use. Additionally, hot breakfast items, including pancakes and bacon, are now available on late-start Wednesdays at the high school and middle school, with plans to expand this offering to the elementary schools.

The menu offerings vary across the school levels. The high school boasts six stations, each offering a wide variety of menu choices daily. The middle school has five stations, with a different meal at each station. Elementary schools currently offer all students two hot meal choices per day.

While plant-based proteins are available at ROHS and ROMS, the food services department is actively exploring options to introduce them at the elementary school level, catering to a growing demand for plant-based meal choices.

New this year, the Michigan School Meals Program, which provides free meals to all students, has had a remarkable impact on the district's food services department. Participation in school meals has increased by a staggering 60%, a testament to the program's success. This surge in participation, however, has added extra responsibilities and demands on the food service staff. Creative solutions have been implemented to alleviate this stress on staff, including visits from Cooper, a registered therapy dog, and chair shoulder massages administered by a licensed therapist.

High school students can give direct feedback to the food service department regarding school meals. To gauge the student body's opinions and preferences, the food services department utilizes ChattBack survey. This text-based, anonymous survey allows students to respond, ensuring their voices are heard when planning future menus.

For those who wish to contribute to school meal planning, joining the Wellness Committee's sub-committee that focuses on menu planning is an excellent way to get involved. Wellness Committee volunteers offer valuable insights into making the menu as diverse and nutritious as possible.

Royal Oak Schools Food Services Department continuously evolves to meet its students' dietary needs and preferences while facing new challenges like the Michigan Meals Program. As the department moves forward, it remains dedicated to providing healthy and delicious meals to nourish the young minds of the community. Watch the student-produced video below.