The SAGE food service is expanding to provide lunch for all students in Kindergarten through Grade 12 at no additional cost in the 2019-20 school year, resulting in an increase of approximately 37% more students relying on the cafeteria for their midday meal.
“In order to provide the proper lunchtime experience for students on both campuses, we needed to look at installing a fully-functional commercial kitchen on the Pine/Octavia Campus and new stations throughout the Shakespeare’s Landing space to alleviate a lot of the lunch line congestion,” Strategic Design Facilitator Geoff De Santis said. “This construction opens up a lot of flexibility for both campuses.”
The construction of a full-service kitchen is already underway in the Columbus Room on the Pine/Octavia Campus. The construction team will also make alterations to the Broadway Campus kitchen over the summer to accommodate preparation and storage, according to De Santis.
The Pine/Octavia kitchen will occupy the perimeter of the Columbus Room and still provide space in the center of the room for assemblies and studying.
“We had to work with SAGE, our kitchen designers from Aria Kitchen Design and architect Michael Zucker to make sure that everything fits,” De Santis said. “Any design challenge just brings out our creativity and makes us think a little bit deeper.”
SAGE kitchen staff is currently cooking and preparing food on Broadway and transferring it daily to Pine/Octavia. While this system works with 60% of the student body in the lunch program, the new construction will better accommodate the estimated 97% of the student body who will be receiving school lunch next year, with the remaining 3% opting to bring food from home or purchase food off campus, according to De Santis.
“I eat on campus with the SAGE lunch almost every day because it is a pretty good healthy lunch that changes all the time,” sophomore Jacqueline Guevara said. “I will probably still eat on campus almost every day next year, too. I just hope the lunch lines do not get too long with the increased number of people.”
SAGE has hired four new staff members to help with the food production and serving — two for each campus — and plans to have multiple stations with the same food items to speed up lunch lines, according to SAGE district manager Gina Vance.
“I originally didn’t buy the lunch service because I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the food, but it looks really good so I am looking forward to having it next year,” freshman Madeline Saint James, who was not on the SAGE lunch service this year said. “I also like that the food will be accessible on both campuses.”
The menu will include the top 20 favorite dishes from this year determined through production records that track student daily participation at lunch, according to Vance. Dishes include marinated steak, pesto pasta, Mexican food with toppings bar and corn dogs.
“We want to make sure that everyone has something to eat every single day,” Vance said. “We produce a certain amount of each dish, and then depending on how much is left over, we figure out how much we need for next time. When something is really popular we know that we go through a lot of it.”
The Pine/Octavia Campus will use 100% reusable plates, bowls and utensils for lunch when the Columbus Room reopens, while the Broadway Campus will continue using single-use, compostable products as it currently does not have dishwasher capacity for all the dishes that would be used by students, according to De Santis.
Construction will continue through summer break and the kitchen is scheduled to be ready for use at the beginning of the school year, according to De Santis.