Aramark Education has launched Cool*Caf, a dining platform for elementary school cafeterias that features nutritious menus, faster service lines and a fruit and vegetable bar.
Created as a result of comprehensive research with more than 2,500 students, parents, and teachers across the country, the concept was piloted at 16 schools in this past fall, with some showing a 50 percent increase in fruit and vegetable consumption, a 30 percent increase in speed of service and a 10-30 percent increase in meal participation. The latter is a key factor for schools seeking to increase federal funding for their foodservice programs. The company plans to introduce Cool*Caf at 60 additional schools in January and several hundred more next fall.
“Working with students, parents and teachers, we have created a dining environment that truly reflects the needs and preferences of the entire school community,” says Cathy Schlosberg, vice president of marketing and strategic development for Aramark Education. “Parents and teachers appreciate the wellness menus and nutrition education, while students are thrilled with the fun café makeover, the menu variety, and the increased time to eat and socialize with friends.”
Cool*Caf incorporates Aramark’s newly-designed wellness menus. which exceed USDA and state-level nutrition guidelines by providing low and non-fat dairy options, lean protein choices, access to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, increased fiber from whole grain products, and reduced sodium.
As part of its concept research, Aramark determined that on average, elementary students are allotted an average of only 23 minutes for lunch. Since limited lunch periods and long lines negatively impact meal participation, the company redesigned service lines, creating express options for students who are looking to purchase milk or access the fruit and vegetable bar. In addition, Sack Lunches, featuring hot and cold food items, are offered for students on the go.
Environmentally, Cool*Caf energizes the dining environment by using bright colors, animation and student-inspired themes and messaging that promote good health. Nutrition mascots ACE and his friends, Marcus, Ana, Zack and Lucy will campaign for healthy eating through a monthly program consisting of live shows, posters, and other materials distributed to students that communicate the importance of nutrition, exercise and getting plenty of sleep.