Ready or not, Back to School season is upon us! 

The first week of school for K-12 students is full of excitement and changes: reconnecting with old friends, making new ones, getting reacquainted with school routines and getting to know new teachers. For many young students, this will be their first “normal” school year as pandemic precautions ease; for others, it will be a welcome readjustment to old routines and expectations. 

Whether they’re starting kindergarten or rounding that final corner into their senior year, every student’s first week will be different. They’ll all share one constant, though: welcome “downtime” in your dining room. Mealtimes can feel like a respite for the kids- a time to relax, socialize, and be nurtured with food and kindness. Especially in those first wild weeks. 

As a managed food service provider for private K-12 schools, we’ve been there for countless first days, first weeks, and first months of school. We love seeing the creative ways that food service can get in the game when it comes to making students feel welcome and special. 

Here are some easy, meaningful ways your school and its dining program can get the year started off right: 

Name tags all around.

Your students will learn their teachers’ names on day one, but what about the administrative, dining and facilities staff that keep the day running smoothly? Name tags are a small gesture that can have a big impact. When students can put names and faces together, it strengthens the sense of community in your school’s culture. That familiarity can be especially effective in the dining area, giving each mealtime a personal touch. Creating a connection with staff outside of the classroom can also help to foster a culture of gratitude between students and staff, as kids learn to recognize and appreciate the hard work of others. 

Introduce yourself.

Most schools we know have several new teachers and staff on board coming into the 2022-23 school year. Rather than relying on chaotic open house nights for hurried introductions, try sending quick intros via email. New staff and teachers can simply film selfie videos on their mobile devices introducing themselves to students and parents; administrators can attach or embed them in all-school emails. Try giving your intros a little structure by asking each staff person to answer the same three questions. A quick personal introduction within the first few weeks of school is a wonderful way to create connections between your school staff—especially non-classroom and dining teams—and the families you serve. 

Want to feature a bigger group of staff and teachers, or introduce everyone in the building? Try sending one video introduction a week in a “staff feature” email, or post snippets on your school’s social media accounts. 

Celebrate with food. 

Kick off the school year with a fun dining services event! Themed lunches can be a great way to welcome students back to school or celebrate a successful first couple of weeks. We’ve loved seeing our Pedestal Foods schools put on super fun luaus, cookouts, pizza parties, ice cream socials and more to celebrate the start of a fresh school year. Get creative with menus, decorations, games, and activities! You’ll help kids get excited about the year ahead, and start the semester on a fun, tasty note. 

No matter how you choose to make your first few weeks of school feel special, the team at Pedestal Foods wishes all of your leaders, teachers, staff and students a happy, healthy 2022-23 academic year! 

Looking for a creative, nimble partner to help you do more with your private school’s dining program? Get in touch with Pedestal Foods here.