This week we’re welcoming guest blogger, Jim Davis, Catering Manager for City School in Sheffield. To kick off the school year, we asked Jim to share how his school hopes to make the canteen the first choice for new students.
To get school meal numbers up for the new school year, you have to take the plunge!
When our new intake of year sevens came to the school’s transition day last term, as a catering team we jumped on the opportunity and offered them all a free lunch. The benefits to them? They didn’t have to add packed lunch to their list of things to prepare for on the big day, or bring in cash to buy a meal. The benefits to us? All our new year sevens got to experience a real lunchtime at City, sampled what we offer and will hopefully come back for more! If you can get this group on board with school lunches from their first day, then they’re more likely to stick to school meals until they leave. Transition day came and went, without too many hitches, and the feedback we had from both staff and pupils was tremendous.
But we’re not stopping there – for the whole first week of term we’ll be offering year seven free lunches all week. I know it sounds crazy, but I feel that if you take away the pressure to choose something they know they’ll like – because they’re paying for it – by offering a meal for free, they are more likely to try something new. And if we convert some pupils who thought they were going to bring packed lunches, to school lunches, then it has all been worth it.
My advice is:
• Organise a taster day so pupils can sample and enjoy your menu without any pressure of having to pay (or offer meals for a reduced price).
• Plan well in advance of any special events – use posters, letters and flyers to ensure everyone knows when your event will be and avoid a low turn out.
• Don’t be afraid of costs – the benefits in the long term will totally out weigh them.
Jim’s school has been working with us to test out ways to help more families with the cost of school meals, by using meal deals and discounts. Look out for more information about this in the next edition of Cook for Success – coming soon!