6 Ways to support teachers and staff with on-campus dining
When designing, executing and managing your school’s dining program, you probably focus your attention on serving students and families. But what about the teachers and staff in your school?
Teaching today is even more complex and stressful than just a few years ago; attracting and retaining teachers is a growing challenge for many schools. Culture and support are two huge factors when it comes to boosting satisfaction with the excellent teachers and staff that make your school a success.
It doesn’t take extra resources or effort to show teachers and staff that your school appreciates and supports them. At Pedestal Foods, we work with some of the best and most innovative K-12 schools in the field; here are just a few of the ways they’ve poured their attention into supporting teachers and staff via the dining experience.
Consider adding menu options just for staff. Even a grown-up spin on your existing menu can make “dining in” more appealing for staff and teachers. If you’re serving spaghetti and meatballs on a Tuesday, consider adapting a Pasta Primavera; if Taco Tuesday is on the calendar, consider a build-your-own taco station in the teachers’ lounge. Creating a “Teacher Exclusive” menu option shows your staff you’re listening and you’re invested in their satisfaction.
Offer “Grab and Go.”
We all know teachers and staff rarely get a true break during the school day. They often use every minute of their lunch time to prepare for future classes or take care of pressing life-related tasks. Help them make the most of their time with easy grab-and-go options designed to be picked up and taken back to their classrooms, to a meeting, or on the go as they run a quick midday errand. These no-mess, no-fuss options should be packed with energy and easy to prep and package– the simpler the better. Pack fruit, nut, and cheese cubes in a to-go container or fill a bag with a power bar, an apple, and a bottled water for quick, on-the-go nourishment.
Let Teachers Order Early.
Looking for another way to respect and honor teachers’ lunch “break?” Eliminate waiting with order-ahead options, then plate and pack their orders just like a restaurant would approach a takeout order. Online ordering can be easy to execute with free, easy tools like Google Forms, email, and other survey platforms. Knowing that their midday meal is made-to-order, fully assembled and ready to go can be a huge sign of support and understanding for teachers and staff.
Ask for Feedback (then listen!)
Creating specific surveys for teachers will help you learn what they want from on-campus dining services, what would make their lives easier, and how you can best support them from the kitchen. Remember to ask specific questions to get solid suggestions that you can actually implement; chances are, the changes they want to see require minimal effort for you but will make a big impact on how they use and enjoy the school’s dining services.
Surveys can also be a great way to get buy-in and feedback on any changes you’re planning for student dining services; teacher input can help you smooth out new systems and refine new initiatives before rolling them out school-wide.
Give them some space.
It doesn’t take much to make a teacher’s lounge or designated teacher area feel like a respite. Make sure the space is welcoming and clean; comfortable seating, open tables, and a fridge and microwave are a great start. Single-cup coffee makers and well-stocked snack baskets are always a hit. Team up with your school’s parent-teacher organization to help make the teachers’ area a nourishing, appealing place to pause and connect.
Help them at home.
Some of our schools take orders for carry-out dinner options, prepared by campus kitchen staff, for teachers to take home to their families after a long day. Give it a try with your dining program’s “greatest hits.” When your famous baked chicken is on the menu, for example, offer teachers an option to order take-home portions for a reasonable price. Then pack containers of 4-6 servings of each item on the menu and have it ready to go for teachers to grab on their way home and heat up when they get there. It doesn’t take much effort, but the impact is big!
The Bottom Line: Teachers are your VIP Customers.
Teachers and staff are more than an important customer group for your school’s dining services programs; they’re an essential part of your school’s culture. It’s easy to show them you understand their specific needs, and demonstrate your love and support through—what else?—food!
How does your dining program support your teachers and staff specifically? Let us know!
Interested in freshening up your school’s dining program? Get in touch with Pedestal Foods here.