BERLIN – As students at Stephen Decatur High School filtered into the cafeteria and through the lunch line Tuesday, things were noticeably different.
The normal lunch trays and food the students were accustomed to seeing were replaced with Chinese take-out containers and a plethora of Asian cuisine options. A sign out front proudly displayed the words “Lunch My Way.”
“The biggest thing the kids are really excited about today, or what the buzz is about, is having ‘Lunch My Way,’” said Odtis Collins, coordinator of food services for Worcester County Public Schools. “Students can actually go in and put together their own meal.”
Since the beginning of the school year, Collins said he and cafeteria managers have been working to rebrand school lunches. The goal, he said, was to give students more options.
“One of our biggest goals was to increase the variety of nutritional foods that we offer to our students,” Collins said. “I think we all determined that at the beginning of the year.”
With “Lunch My Way”, Collins said the cafeteria will feature themed foods each week.
“Each week we will feature an opportunity for the kids to make their lunch ‘my way,’” Collins said. “This week is an Asian theme. Next week we will be doing a Mexican theme. We will also do breakfast themes, American themes and other types of cuisines.”
On Tuesday, the school held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new café, celebrating a change in the way school lunches look and what they offer.
“We really think our packaging has changed,” Collins said. “We are trying to give it more of a café-type feel and look. So it’s really important that as we increase our variety of healthy, nutritional items, we want to have some fun with it too.”
Prior to their rebranding efforts, the school usually offered two lunch choices, according to Cafeteria Manager Anna Hudson. These offerings have now grown to 14.
Although it will be the first school in the county to introduce “Lunch My Way,” Collins said SDHS will now join Snow Hill High School to offer “grab and go” options consisting of pre-made salads and sandwiches.
“We have been testing the ‘grab and go’ concept for a while now and the testing went very well,” Collins said. “The kids have really embraced ‘grab and go,’ so now today it will be official as a ‘grab and go’ line.”
In the upcoming weeks, Collins said the cafeteria will get a new name to better reflect its new café style.
“We are still working on that,” he said. “The principal has a contest with the students to give a name for the café … Mrs. Hudson and her team have done a great job of putting this together. The team has been really phenomenal here.”