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Easing the Burdens on School Nutrition Staff During COVID-19

Easing the Burdens on School Nutrition Staff During COVID-19

While the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on educational instruction throughout the world, cafeteria foodservice disruptions have also skyrocketed. The days of serving school children lunch in the cafeteria are now replaced with deliveries to individual classrooms. This new lunch schedule is difficult on staff as many school kitchens aren't outfitted with the proper equipment for lunch deliveries. 

The foodservice dilemma

With children returning to school in person, one of the many dilemmas facing administrators is how to safely feed them. The CDC recommends children eat meals outdoors or in classrooms while social distancing instead of in a communal dining hall. While the guidance is valid, it's easy to see the strain it puts on an already stressed-out foodservice staff.

In addition to delivering meals, staff is encouraged to plate individual meals or provide prepackaged ones. Gone are the days of salad bars and other self-service stations. Now, along with disposable utensils and gloves, cafeteria staff need to be cognizant about their own cleaning and sanitizing habits while providing a safe environment for fellow coworkers, students, and teachers. 

The financial burdens

School lunch programs were already pretty taxed even before the pandemic. The USDA reports that around 97% of costs are covered by revenues, but that means that most school foodservice programs operate at a small deficit or just break even. To make matters even worse, additional costs need to be factored in this year for protective gear for staff (masks, gloves, cleaning, and disinfecting supplies). Additional packaging also increases costs — whether staff are feeding kids in school or still providing breakfasts and lunches while classes are virtual.

Delivering food to individual classrooms may also require more money. If cafeteria staff do not have the appropriate carts to transport the food, it can waste time and reduce the quality of the breakfasts and lunches served. 

The solution

Luckily, there is a solution. Classroom meal delivery carts are a cost-effective and efficient way to get meals into the classrooms, and Lakeside offers carts for a variety of needs. Thermal bags or coolers allow food to remain at the proper temperature and permit ease of movement down hallways and back to the cafeteria in limited trips. Let's take a look at an example.

The Clermont School raised concerns about making their food deliveries more efficient. They felt that going from the kitchen to the classroom several times per service wasn't the best way to use their staff's time or to promote the quality of lunches. With the help of the foodservice delivery carts from Lakeside, they were able to reduce their amount of trips back and forth from 13 to three. With the lunch rush going smoothly, they implemented the easy-tow carts for breakfast too. The staff reported delivery was much more efficient and their own time management improved because of the new equipment. 

The Clermont School is just one of many that needed to find a solution to this new food distribution problem. They immediately saw results and found that transporting food with the proper equipment makes for a more streamlined approach that benefits both students and staff.

The COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrinkle into school food service plans. From dealing with additional guidelines and protective gear to serving lunches in classrooms, cafeteria staff had to roll with the punches and figure out ways to manage their time, all while delivering quality meals. Adding a Lakeside delivery cart to your daily routine will help cut down on trips from kitchen to classroom. 

If you’re looking to ease up your school breakfast or lunch routine, contact us for more information about our carts and how we can help you. 

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How Digital Tools are Transforming Foodservice

Chef Taking Food Inventory

Are you interested in improving efficiency, increasing output, and reducing food waste in your restaurant or other foodservice business? If you are, it may be time to get technical. That's right, technology is playing an increasingly important role in the foodservice industry.

According to an article in Forbes magazine, we owe many of the improvements in the production, packaging, shelf life, and safety of food to improved technology in the food industry. From drone farmworkers to robotic butchers, technology is impacting all areas of food production and distribution. For example, satellite imagery helps monitor weather patterns that can affect the timing of planting and harvesting. Farm drones pinpoint diseased crops so that pesticides can be applied precisely where they're needed instead of blanket bombing entire fields. Advanced packaging can improve food safety, increase shelf life, and help eliminate waste.

Going Green

Technology can even help your business go green. An app such as Copia can keep track of your food inventory to help you make more informed purchasing decisions. It will also help you reduce food waste by connecting you with local non-profits who can make good use of your surplus food.

After-school programs, shelters, and other programs will benefit from that surplus while you reap the tax benefits of your donations. Not only that, but you'll no longer be contributing to the 40% of American food that gets wasted each year. That's an important point for many customers, especially millennials and generation Z.

Sustainability is a major concern for many of these younger customers. They may even choose a place to eat based on it. Reducing water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions go hand in hand with reducing food waste. So too does sourcing food locally, since it reduces the fuel and emissions associated with long-distance shipping. Not only is improved sustainability beneficial to the planet, but it also benefits your bottom line through lower food costs and an increased customer base.

Managing Inventory and Production Schedules

Use technology to help you with more accurate inventory management so that you always know what to order and when. You can also use it to manage your production schedule in order to improve efficiency and reduce wasteful overproduction. According to the non-profit ReFED organization, you can save thousands of dollars annually just by using technology to track and reduce waste.

Digital tools transforming foodservice is just one trend to look for in 2021. Learn more about the top food and beverage trends of the new year in our recorded webinar, “Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021”.

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Food As Medicine – An Intro Guide

Fruit and Medicine Bottles

If there's one thing we learned in the past year, it's that our health is the most important thing we have. And as we know, one of the most important aspects to staying healthy is eating a healthy diet. Yes, food is important because it helps us stay healthy.

Eating a healthy well-balanced diet year-round is key in keeping your immune system healthy. Fresh fruits and vegetables give us many of the vitamins and minerals our body craves and prevents infections. While supplements can be useful, it's better to get what you need from fresh or frozen foods and not a capsule. Hospitals and senior care communities across the country know this, and that's why food is often viewed as medicine — food has the power to heal.

With cold and flu season in full swing, now is the time to do everything necessary to keep our bodies healthy and free from disease. Especially in the age of COVID-19, bodies need these six beneficial vitamins and ingredients:

Vitamin C

Your mother probably told you to drink your orange juice because it was packed with vitamin C, and you should always listen to mom. The simple reason it's so important is that it may increase white blood cell production, which helps to fight viruses, bacteria, and infections.

Foods packed with vitamin C include:

  • Grapefruit
  • Oranges
  • Tangerines
  • Red bell peppers
  • Broccoli

Not only do these foods help boost immunity, but they're also great for maintaining skin and eye health.

Vitamin E

Not always thought of as the most common vitamin when boosting immunity, but vitamin E is a powerhouse. Packed with antioxidants, which help protect cells against free radicals, vitamin E is important for eye, blood, and brain health.

Foods full of vitamin E include:

  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Seeds
  • Avocado
  • Spinach
  • Canola oil
  • Olive oil

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is super important in that it is anti-inflammatory and may help antibodies respond to toxins in the body. It's also fat-soluble, which means it's best to include healthy fats with it to aid in absorption.

Important for vision and cell division and reproduction, here are some common foods packed with vitamin A.

  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Butternut squash
  • Spinach
  • Dairy products
  • Cantaloupe
  • Dark leafy greens


Iron helps support immune health. It is a key nutrient in helping develop white blood cells and mobilizing their response. Iron is also crucial to blood health and reproductive health.

Need more iron in your diet? Try these foods.

  • Chicken
  • Red meat
  • Turkey
  • Oysters
  • Clams
  • Canned tuna


In order to produce new immune system cells, zinc must be present. Unfortunately for us, zinc is a mineral our body doesn't produce, so we need to get it elsewhere. It's typically found in shellfish (oysters, crab, lobster), but eating yogurt or chickpeas will also do the trick.

The thing about zinc is that you need it for healthy immune function, but getting too much of it can have the opposite effect and impair immunity.


Garlic isn't used to just season food or give you stinky breath, but it contains a myriad of compounds to support immune system health. It has been shown to reduce stress hormones and increase the production of T-cells. This superstar may also lower blood pressure and cholesterol according to recent clinical trials. Used throughout the ages to treat colds and infections, soldiers even used it in World War II to prevent gangrene.

The concept of "food as medicine" is just one trend to look for in 2021. Learn more about the top food and beverage trends of the new year in our recorded webinar, “Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021”.

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Why You Should Transform Your School Cafeteria

Creating an inviting atmosphere in your K-12 school cafeteria can have dramatic impacts on student participation levels.

Mealtimes should be positive, and lunchrooms should be inviting places. Lunch should be an enjoyable part of the school day for students, whether they're in kindergarten or high school, and the cafeteria should be a break from the rigors of the school day.

School nutrition programs that embrace this mentality, that transform school cafeterias into places where students can relax, socialize, and become nourished, will enjoy the benefits of higher participation levels and higher performing students, but the question becomes how?


For starters, consider how the lunchroom experience starts. Even a simple welcome sign can go a long way to establishing ownership and a sense of pride, which will inevitably increase student participation. Welcoming décor isn't that difficult to pull off, either. A quick run to the local hobby store can transform an entryway.


One of the things students struggle with the most is time. Lunch periods are getting shorter and shorter, and students don't have time to waste on trying to figure out where things are located within the cafeteria. If there's a grill area, identify it. If the line starts here, let students know. Get creative with signs and identifications, too. It's an opportunity to turn a school cafeteria into a space that feels more like a restaurant or food court.


How you display foods is almost as important as what foods are displayed. Attracting and enticing students -- and ultimately getting those students to buy meals -- requires products to be merchandised in ways that showcase their freshness and abundance. Clean and tidy displays are preferred over clutter and disorder. Lighting and even tray colors like dark reds and blues can make menu items more appealing. The goal is to make foods as enticing as possible because, first, we eat with our eyes.

What are the benefits of a school cafeteria transformation?

Studies show a school cafeteria environment can have an impact on the general performance of the student body. When the eating environment is pleasant and appealing, students eat more of their lunch, do better in the classroom, and have fewer behavioral problems. This is why proper nourishment is so important.

In terms of participation, though, what can be the true impact? How much does ambiance effect student meal participation? With just some simple transformations including displays, graphics, décor, and design, a high school can experience increases of more than 20 percent on participation levels, resulting in totals of nearly $120,000 in annual revenue.

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Webinar: Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021

Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021

Webinar: Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021

Your world has been dominated by shifts and progressions, forcing the evolution of your operations. So how can you keep up?

After months of surveys, conversations, trainings, and research, we’ve identified 10 foodservice trends to help you rise into the new year.

You’ll learn:

  • The top 10 foodservice trends in 2021
  • How other businesses and industries are adapting
  • How to implement these strategies for yourself

Reserve your spot now!

Recorded Webinar

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The COVID Resource Roundup

If there was one word to describe 2020, “uncertainty” has to be at the top of the list.

The world has completely changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ability to adapt and adjust to this new world we live in, especially in foodservice, has never been more critical. Here at Lakeside, our first instinct is to help our customers, whether it’s through in-room meal solutions in healthcare, sanitization in restaurants, or meal delivery and accessibility in K-12 and colleges and universities.

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