Implementation of self-service lines in school canteens

In a nutshell

By using self-service lines to serve food, catering providers can save resources:

  • Food - because clients put on the plate only what they want to eat, thus food waste is reduced,
  • Human resources – providing food on self-service lines requires fewer employees than when employees hand out food in the distribution line or bring it to the tables.

The use of self-service lines saves financial and environmental resources in alignment with a range of EU sustainability strategies and policies.

Necessary Steps

  • The catering service provider installs the necessary technological equipment in the school dining room – a self-service line. When choosing the set of equipment, the caterer should consider the planned number of students to be served (per hour) and the planned assortment of food (e.g. cold food, hot food, etc.).
  • The school divides the flow of students, i.e. determines how many students will eat in each break and when lunch will start for each group of diners (class).
  • Students are informed about how to take food in the self-service line, e.g in what order they should take the food. Also, pupils are reminded that they should take only as much food as they will eat.
  • In the self-service line, technological equipment is placed sequentially for food selection.
  • Cutlery, napkins, and bread can be placed on a separate table in the dining room.
  • Drinking glasses and drinks can be put on the dining tables or on separate tables in the dining room.
  • If pupils choose only one dish they do not have to take the tray.
  • An employee of a catering company monitors the filling of food containers, as well as order and cleanliness in the self-service line. If necessary, the food shall be supplemented

More Issues To Consider

  • The amount of food to be placed on the self-service line is calculated according to the planned number of portions (pupils). The food in the self-service line must not be stored longer than is allowed by the relevant legal acts (normally 4 hours, preferably scheduled for up to 2 hours).
  • The self-service line (which includes a table for trays, cold vitrine, marmite for hot food, a table for soup or desserts, and a table for cutlery and napkins) occupies about 10 m². Such a line is suitable for serving approximately 400 students per hour if groups of 100 pupils arrive every 15 min. In this case, it is necessary to provide at least 100-120 seats in the dining room. Managing to organise a periodic flow of students within an hour, allows to avoid crowding.
  • At the beginning of introducing the self-service line, pupils may be putting too much food on plates, so students should be reminded regularly to take only as much food as they eat.

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