Hoping to get kids eating school lunches, county BOE considers redesign of cafeterias
by Brian Anderson
Jul 25, 2013 | 4394 views |  0 comments | 50 50 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Calhoun County Board of Education is considering a radical and modern redesign for its schools’ lunchrooms.

Jeanie Clough, a spokeswoman with Milwaukee-based Interior Systems, presented the board at its regular meeting today with re-imagined cafeteria space for Saks High School, Saks Middle School, Weaver High School and Alexandria High School. Clough said the proposed projects are designed to make the cafeteria space mimic the look and feel of modern restaurants to encourage students to eat more meals at the schools.

“We can’t beat them, so let’s copy them,” Clough said, explaining Interior Systems’ approach to making school lunchrooms resemble popular fast food franchises like McDonald’s and KFC.

Clough showed off examples of Interior Systems’ previous work, ranging from schools in rural Iowa to Compton High School in Los Angeles. Renovation projects typically involve input from school officials and students and often take into consideration school colors and mascots and branding.

“Most of us in this room are over the age of 50,” Clough said. “And when we make decisions on spaces used by 14-, 15-, and 16-year-olds, it’s important they’re involved in the process.”

Clough said recent changes to lunchroom menus, which are meant to encourage students to make healthy choices, often have the unintended effect of driving students elsewhere to get their meals. Interior Systems’ approach tries to invite students back into school lunchrooms.

Although the projects still need more input and design before the board can approve any renovation, Clough said she estimated the cost of renovating the Alexandria High School cafeteria would cost the board just under $200,000.

The board today also viewed edited footage of Superintendent Joe Dyar presenting the Alabama Board of Education with Calhoun County’s new flexible graduation plan at a meeting last month. Calhoun County’s new plan, allowing students to waive certain graduation requirements and finish classes earlier, is the first to be approved by the State Board of Education under the recently passed Alabama Accountability Act.

The board is scheduled to meet again on Aug. 22.

Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.

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