Blog Post

Courtesy is on the house

“The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any.” – Fred Astaire
I wonder what Fred would think now?
We want our children to be courteous. We try to prepare them to make their way through the world with confidence and social grace. As parents, you teach good manners at home. At our schools, we are reinforcing those lessons by modeling and encouraging polite, considerate behavior.
As part of cafeteria reinvention, one of our goals has been to improve the guest experience. We took a hard look at how students were treated, listened to students and parents, and set new goals to create a more welcoming atmosphere.
As part of our initial launch in two schools, each of our 30 cafeteria employees completed four service training sessions for a total of 15 hours of focus on customer service. Managers were also coached to model expected behavior for their teams.
We did not simply lecture and hand out checklists. We kept the focus personal. We wanted to promote genuine interaction by encouraging employees to greet students, visit tables, ask questions, and show they care about the food they are providing.
To give employees more insight into the students they serve, we shared demographics and trends, as well as data on student interests and preferences. Using role plays and small discussion groups, we explored how to connect with students in a way that would be most comfortable for them.
We also created simple scripts to encourage conversation during three key points: in the serving line, at the table, and as students leave the cafeteria. Employees practiced these conversation-starters to make students feel welcome, express a desire to be of service, ask for feedback, thank students for eating in the cafeteria, and reinforce positive behavior.

The prompts we use include:

  • Hello, it’s good to see you all.
  • It’s great to see you. Can I recommend _____?
  • How may I serve you?
  • How is the ______ today?
  • Is there anything I can get for you?
  • I’ll be looking for you tomorrow.
  • Enjoy the rest of your day!
  • Thank you for cleaning up your area.

Employees now wear new uniforms and nametags. This boosts their professionalism and camaraderie. It is also easier for students to spot people who can help them and recognize individuals rather than the generic “lunch lady.”

We are continuing to renovate and introduce improvements to food quality and guest experience throughout the district. Forgive me for bragging, but we are all very proud of our ongoing reinvention.

Richmond County Nutrition Services

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