Lunch Lessons


Food Service Departments are a critical part of the daily fabric of school life, yet, they often go unseen and unappreciated despite the fact they account for a large percentage of hourly staff in a school district and their “work” touches almost every child daily. Many school districts do not view the Food Services Departments as more than a requirement to make sure children are fed. The fact that Food Services Departments are solely responsible for managing the eligibility status of the entire district is often overlooked.

Food Service Assessments:

  • Create the opportunity to bring the accomplishments and the challenges faced by Food Service Departments to light.
  • Give the Food Service teams a voice
  • Help illustrate the importance of their work and what they accomplish within exceedingly small budgets and in often outdated conditions.
  • Highlight the “next steps” from the vision of the department itself.
  • Assist in activating practical next steps and the inputs needed to achieve them.


  • Site Observation and Analysis: Review of school sites’ operations, including sanitation, receiving and storage, food production, record keeping and service.

  • Financial Analysis and Reporting: Review of the historical trends and records of food services funds including tracking and recording of purchasing, inventory, food production, catering, contracted services, direct and indirect charges, meal counts, business services interface, and the district systems for reporting State/Federal compliance.

  • Procurement: Review of vendor velocity data, manufacturer, school co-op, distributor contracts and bids and analysis of all purchased goods for the fund.

  • Commodity Allocations: Review practices, commodity pass through allocations (broker contracts), and direct delivery practices.

  • Food and Menus: Review of menu planning, recipe development, ingredient selection and meal costs by type.

  • Human Resources: Review food service organizational structure, job descriptions, and personnel expenses by area and location.

  • Policy and Standards: Review of Wellness Policy, including any other district policies regarding food services, Standard Operating Procedures, sanitation training, culinary skills training, customer service training, and any other team building or professional development performed by the department.

  • Marketing and Community Collaboration: – Review recent or current strategies and programs to communicate about Food Services within the district and out to the local community. Who are the “champions” of the program locally? Are there key stakeholders who are already or could be engaged to support your program position through other activities, such as gardens, after school cooking clubs, recipe contests, or farmers market entrepreneurs?

  • Reporting – review of practices, tracking and recording of purchasing, inventory, food production, catering, contracted services, direct and indirect charges, meal counts, business services interface with food services, and the district system for reporting State/Federal compliance.

  • Food Service Warehouse and Materials Management Operations: Review of systems relative to food services warehouse management, shipping, receiving, food production facilities, and transportation operations as operated by Food Services or in service of the department.

Lunch Lessons


Lunch Lessons’ approach utilizes a whole system perspective and examines the complex inter-dependent network of systems of a Food Service Department:

  • Food Production and Meal Service
  • Finance
  • Facilities and Transport
  • Procurement
  • Federally Mandated Record Keeping
  • Human Resources
  • Marketing and Communication

We identify strengths and challenges within the existing system to drive the strategies for change, while considering the district’s desired outcomes.  It is important to point pin the fully functioning systems that can support change versus the areas of operation that may need modification.  As this will determine the feasibility of meeting the district’s goals.

While working through the steps of the assessment, we are committed to communicating with the department leadership to insure a complete understanding of the assessment’s processes.  Many of the findings will be shared along the way to facilitate clear understanding from start to finish.


Start System Innovation Within Your School Food Service

Contact Lunch Lessons, LLC