When Clover (S.C.) High School opened its new ninth grade campus adjacent to the existing high school building, the second cafeteria in the school became unnecessary as the expansion removed about 800 of the building’s 2,300 students.
What to do with the suddenly superfluous space?
Well, why not install a coffee shop, was the answer administrators came up.
“It’s a big, open space that we call the Clover Student Union, where students can gather to study or take a break,” says Bryan Dillon, public information officer for the Clover School District. “We also converted the cafeteria area into a coffee shop where they can get a lot of options such as food for lunch, coffee, hot chocolate, all sorts of different items that are different from the cafeteria.”
The fare available at the Student Union coffee shop includes a la carte items like pizza, cheese trays, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, flatbread, salads, parfaits, fruits and vegetables, desserts like cookies and brownies and even on occasion sushi. The space has its own food production equipment, so items like the pizza are cooked right there.
Beverage options range from regular and iced coffee and hot chocolate to smoothies, juices, waters and reduced sugar Coke products. “They all fit in school standards for beverages,” Dillon stresses.
Students can use their declining balance cafeteria lunch accounts to purchase items at the coffee shop as well. Clover School District does participate in the National School Lunch program, with about a third of its enrollment qualifying for free or reduced-price school meals, but reimbursable meals are currently available only in the main cafeteria.
The coffee shop is open continuously from 7 a.m. (school starts at 8:30 a.m.) to 4 p.m. (a half hour after the 3:30 p.m. end of classes) and is available to all district students and staff, though for practical reasons most of the traffic is from the high school building as the ninth-grade building is an inconvenient walk away given typical school day time windows.
The coffee shop is staffed by four individuals during busy times and as few as two during lull periods. “It’s not something that can be run by just one person,” Dillon explains.
The high school operates on a flex time schedule that allows students to gather in groups and have club meetings, and the Student Union now presents an excellent venue for these gatherings, Dillon says. “There have even been classes conducted there,” he adds.
The space can accommodate about a hundred, with a variety of options ranging from sofas to high-top tables with plug-ins for electronic devices like the Macbook Air laptop computers each high school student in the district is issued.
“It’s a big, usable space,” Dillon summarizes.