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Adjusting To K12 Cafeteria Changes With Lakeside

One Source - LakesideK-12 schools, according to the USDA, serve almost 5 billion lunches every year. This past year with the onset of COVID-19, school cafeteria staff adjusted to how they prepared and served food in ways no one had ever imagined. As school closed around the United States, school cafeteria workers still needed to figure out ways to provide nutritious meals to feed children who were distance learning and needed assistance. Then as schools started to re-open, finding ways to keep children socially distanced during lunch became another challenge. 

Here are some of the challenges schools saw and how Lakeside can help make lunchtime easier for school staff.

Social Distancing

One of the best parts of lunch for many children is getting to chat and spend time with friends. With COVID taking over, having fun at lunchtime was severely altered. Separating seating to make sure everyone is 6 feet apart became the new norm. With less seating available for students, creating shorter lunches to incorporate more lunch sessions also happened. And while there are some new guidelines for classrooms, keeping children six feet apart while eating is still the CDC’s recommendation. 

Getting procedures in place is helpful, but having barriers up helps children learn to stayLakeside Three Tier Merchandising Cart socially distanced. Lakeside’s traffic rails with clear barriers help students stay in line and apart from each other on either side. Having Lakeside’s vertical food guards up can also promote social distancing between the students and cafeteria staff. Looking to have different stations throughout the building to help keep everyone spaced out? The Three Tier Merchandising Cart with Squared Sides can organize pre-packed foods and be wheeled anywhere in the cafeteria.

Serving Food In Multiple Locations

Opening up every school cafeteria the way it had been before the pandemic began was impossible. As lunch service had to shift on many levels, the traditional way we imagined school lunches changed overnight. School administrators and school cafeteria staff had to get creative in how and where they served lunch, even before children started returning to campus. 

The School Nutrition Association found that 81% of school districts surveyed were handing out meals at drive-up locations while schools were still closed. Once some states startedLakeside Lunchtime Meal Transport Cart opening up school campuses, everyone didn’t return to the cafeteria to eat. Serving lunches in classrooms became a viable option for younger children who might not know how to social distance well. Classroom lunchtime also worked well for students with special needs and might need more time to eat their lunches. Some schools are also serving lunches in hallways, gymnasiums and courtyards. 


Serving lunch to different locations on school grounds is easier when you have the right equipment to do it quickly. Lakeside offers a variety of ways to serve food in multiple locations, no matter the school's needs. The Three Tier Merchandising Cart with Rounded Sides is not only visually attractive but also holds pans or tubs to securely hold pre-packaged options. The Lunchtime Meal Transport Cart holds coolers to keep foods cold and the Pre-Packaged Meal Delivery Cart allows for boxed lunches to be delivered wherever needed. 

Health and Sanitation

Keeping everything and everyone sanitized has been a top priority in schools over the past year, especially in the K-12 cafeteria. Children have a reputation for getting sicker more often Lakeside Compact Portable Handwashing Stationthan adults because of the time they spend in school and their still-developing immune systems. So making sure there are fewer touchpoints and plenty of cleaning is essential for a safe lunch.

Lakeside mobile handwashing stations, sanitizing stations, touchless condiment dispensers, and cleaning carts can help make sure things stay clean, no matter where lunch is served. And don’t forget PPE organizers to help keep cafeteria staff safe too.

Discover more how Lakeside can help get school children fed quickly and safely, no matter where lunch is served. Schedule a K-12 School Foodservice Consultation with a One Source Rep today.

k-12 foodservice consultation