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Keep students engaged with meals and activities all school year long

April 20, 2021
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This post is sponsored by Campbell’s Foodservice.

School meals can be a great way to connect with students, and highlighting fun recipes and activities throughout the year can give both students and staff something to look forward to. Major holidays and events such as National School Breakfast Week offer ample opportunity to engage students through themed menu items and activities. Educators and school foodservice operators can also dig a little deeper to find additional inspiration for special events that will brighten up the whole school year.

Versatile options work for various learning models

Meals comprising a variety of convenient, individually packaged items can work in the cafeteria, classroom, or for grab-and-go. Focusing on meals and activities that work in multiple locations can help make the most of school year planning. Handouts and decorations like posters are a great way to get students excited about upcoming events. Creating digital resources can take it to the next level by making sure all students are included, even if they are participating in remote or hybrid learning models.

Variety is the spice of lunchtime

Drawing meal inspiration from holidays and events can help keep school menus fresh and interesting, which is key to keeping students engaged with what’s on their plate. Insufficient variety is a common complaint among students, according to The School Nutrition Association report “Thought Starters on Reopening Schools for SY2020-21,” which cautions schools to “be mindful of avoiding a sameness to meals.”

Using familiar ingredients in new ways is a simple way to shake up meal options and offer students something fun and unique. For example, National Trail Mix Day on Aug. 31 is a great opportunity to engage with students about hiking trails and national parks while celebrating snacking with a trail mix made with a combination of delicious and wholesome ingredients, such as snack crackers and dried fruit. For National Banana Day in April, dressing up the fruit with stickers or positive messages written in marker puts a fun twist on a school meal staple.

Ways to keep students in the loop

To increase the likelihood of students staying engaged with school activities and build excitement about school meals, it is key to make sure they know where to access information about upcoming menus and events. Sharing a calendar with students can let them keep track of what events are coming up.

Giving students a platform to share feedback is also an important factor in making sure they stay engaged since students want to feel like someone is listening to their opinions, according to The School Nutrition Association. Finding out what students like about school meals and activities -- and what else they would like to see on the calendar and on the menu -- can provide valuable insights to make the next school year even more successful.

Download the Four Seasons of School Calendar from Campbell’s Foodservice for more activity and recipe ideas for every month of the school year.