View Full Version : How cool!

04-26-2005, 09:23 AM
I want a cafeteria with a portrait of Trisha in it. :D


Houston High lunchroom to get new look to lure kids

By Julie Hubbard
Telegraph Staff Writer

WARNER ROBINS - There'll be no more long rectangular cafeteria tables or white walls to stare at during lunch.

Houston County High School is trading in its old school cafeteria, and the school board is shelling out $300,584 to buy booths, high tables, bar stools, music memorabilia and other stylish decor for the school's lunchroom.

It's a look that's reminiscent of the Hard Rock Cafe.

"We're trying to bring our cafeteria up to the 21st century," said Jeannine Hill, director of school nutrition for Houston County schools. "We are always competing with McDonald's, Hardees, Subway - these kinds of things."

Hill said school officials hope the redesign increases school pride and student lunch participation.

Typically only about 55 percent of Houston County High School students eat school lunches every day - the lowest in the county school system. Some students buy food from vending machines or don't set foot in the cafeteria at all, instead heading out to the patio or hallway during lunch.

Creating a dining atmosphere inside the cafeteria similar to fast food chains is just one way to reel students in, Hill said. Officials hope to have the project finished by August.

Houston isn't the first or last school system to give their lunch room a face-lift.

Bibb County schools started three years ago with the Hutchings Career Center, turning the culinary cafeteria into a cafe. Bibb has decked out about one-fourth of its school cafeterias since.

One school system in northeast Georgia that also tried a similar revamp already has seen a spike in the number of students eating school lunches.

"We're probably the only (school) in Georgia with an open campus," said Traci Morris, the Cartersville city schools food services director. "And we sit on fast-food row. I had to find something to bring them in."

Cartersville schools added booths and a restaurant-style setting, and now the student lunch participation rate has increased 20 percent, Morris said.

"It's a huge trend," said David Pearson, executive director of Visions by Colorpoint, a Jonesboro company that makes kitchen and service line equipment and continues to sell school lunchroom decor around the state.

"There are actually schools that are bringing in Pizza Huts and Taco Bells," Pearson said. "They are trying to bring in a food court-type atmosphere."

Neither Houston nor Bibb school officials say they are ready for fast food, but they are trying to incorporate the new face of school lunchrooms into more schools.

"I knew the cafeteria had to be more than just a plain cafeteria," said Cleta Long, Bibb County schools' nutrition director. "I had been researching five years prior on how to make it look better."

The system hired a Wisconsin-based company to buy new furniture and create murals and other three-dimensional objects into some of their school lunchrooms, she said. A music wall with portraits of midstate performers Otis Redding and Trisha Yearwood and historical paintings such as the Hay House hang in Hutchings Career Center's cafeteria.

Then officials conceived the idea of creating a travel theme at Heritage Elementary School with wall art of Hollywood, the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty.

Plans for a new middle and elementary school in Bibb County likely will include a "redesigned" cafeteria, Long said.

"It's really changing the face of the school cafeteria," she said. "I think it makes a good place for students to come and reflect on what school is all about."

Extra funds for cafeteria improvements are hard to come by for some schools such as those in Laurens County.

But Laurens County school nutritionist Janice Maddox said she likes the idea.

"They are beautiful and it would be a dream," Maddox said. "But right now we want to filter our money into the (food) services."

The cafeterias of Northside Middle and Warner Robins Middle schools in Houston County recently were remodeled with booths and bright paint.

Meanwhile, Houston school officials also are hoping to implement similar cafeteria redesigns such as the one at Houston County High at their other three high schools. The school may later introduce new food items, Hill said.

"We're trying to compete with the industry," she said. "We're trying to get (students) to pull away from the vending machines, and this is a way to make school lunch cool."

04-26-2005, 11:54 AM
Very cool, but I think the food has to be worth the kids staying on campus too or the novelty will wear off. ;)

04-26-2005, 11:58 AM
I agree. I think that would be awesome. However, I would of liked to of had a Taco Bell and Pizza Hut in my school.

04-26-2005, 12:31 PM
We had Taco Bell and Pizza Hut (express) in my college cafeteria, not high school. That might be taking it too far, IMO....but it would've been cool. :p

04-26-2005, 06:34 PM
That sounds so cool, thanks for sharing the article Sandi. I can remember my high school cafeteria.....so very boring!

05-03-2005, 10:09 PM
Decor is nice.... but it'll date quickly and be no more than an old diner look.

Ya'll are right that the decor is a start... but the food has to be up to snuff too. And I don't think that should mean making more fast food available. Sure kids like it.... but they get way too much of it. They need to close that campus. There are sooooooo many things wrong with having an open campus such as this. The access to fast food is just one of them. The biggest problem is that kids coming and going off campus for lunch increases the chances of accidents, fights, abductions, drug selling, etc.

The food does need to be healthy and good. NOW that's not an easy order. Schools are limited in what they can charge for lunch. It's not easy to make top of the line food for an average of a $1 per meal. Yes... most schools charge a little more than that.... but not much... and then they have kids with free or reduced lunch that eats into any extra charged to other students.

I think what has to be done is more financial support from govt. to better subsidize the meal program so that better and healthier food can be made for all the students. They can get Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, etc. when they get out of school for the day. For a lot of our kids school lunch may be the only time during the whole day that they actually get real food.