Better eating means better learning; new payment system debuts
A wider variety of menu items and a food-court atmosphere, as well as a new payment system tied to students' ID cards, will greet middle- and high-school students when the San Diego Unified School District opens its doors on the 2009-10 school year Tuesday, September 8.
More serving carts will grace school lunch areas with the largest menu in District history, plus a new system that allows students to simply swipe their student ID cards for payment, will shorten cafeteria lines, and encourage more students to have lunch.
"We know that a good lunch helps students learn in the afternoon," said Gary Petill, Food Services Director. "We've worked with students to find out what they want to eat and redesigned the lunch experience.
"They are our customers, but as educators we have a responsibility to ensure their good health and nutrition. Our goal is to have them want to have one of our meals."
Because of a limited lunch period -- at most schools shorter than 40 minutes -- and students' desire to socialize during their only open time during the school day, many students were not eating because of lengthy lines and the style of food served.
"We found that students wanted more of a food-court atmosphere, where they could grab a menu item, then sit with their friends," he said. "We think this new menu accomplishes this."
Serving carts and stations have been given cafe-style names, such as "Riga Tony's," which serves Italian-themed items, and the "Hi Tide Grill," the popular outdoor barbecue.
Also speeding the lines will be a new bar-code system, allowing parents and guardians to prepay -- online if desired -- for their child's meals. Students simply swipe their bar-code equipped ID cards and the account is charged. For those students on free or reduced-priced lunches, the students' accounts are linked to that system. More than 40 percent of San Diego Unified's students are eligible for free and reduced lunches.
Video from Channel 8, story from San Diego Union-Tribune.