School experiments with after school A La Carte option

“It is now three o’clock. If you are not under the direct supervision of a teacher please report to the cafeteria,” the loudspeaker announces. Many students spend their time waiting in the lunchroom after the final bell rings. Some students are waiting for their ride while others do homework with friends. Some spring sports, like tennis, do not start their practices directly after school which leaves them waiting. To accommodate for these students and athletes, the A La Carte area of the cafeteria is now open after school from 2:10 to 2:45 p.m.

The A La Carte after school option gives students a new way to snack after school. The goal is to get food out to anyone who needs it after school, especially providing athletes with the proper nutrition boost that they need to make it through practice.

Every day, as junior Alex Wilhelmy walks to track practice, the line of students waiting at the snack shack catches his eye. He described this new addition as, “basically a little thing that you can grab without leaving the campus and you can go straight to your sport.” Also, Wilhelmy believes that this can affect his performance as he explained, “It could affect me by just giving me on like a full stomach without eating a full course meal.”

So we decided we are going to try it right now until the end of the year and see how it goes. See if it makes enough revenue that we can continue keeping it open.”

— Sara Nelson

It is important for athletes to have snacks before practice or games. Central Washington University suggests that athletes should eat two to three hours before playing as it is the ideal time to let the body process the food and get the energy and nutrients into the system. Utilizing the new after school option will allow athletes to eat at the perfect time for proper nutrition.

The decision makers behind the scenes that made this all happen were Kelly Linquist, Supervisor of nutrition services and Amie Barr, Coordinator of nutrition services. Linquist said, “It started off with requests from students. We went and met with six or seven health classes and gave a little presentation and asked for feedback and it came up in several of the classes for athletes after school. The vending machines don’t offer very healthy or filling snacks for them so after that we started talking and thought well let’s give it a trial run for the rest of the year.”

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Now, thanks to student interest, this is now a reality at our school. Anyone walking by will notice the immediate effect. Athletes can be seen lining up to quickly punch in their lunch code before racing off to the locker room with that little extra energy boost to push them through the rest of the day.   

Kitchen manager Sara Nelson explained, “People that stay after school wanted to be able to get snacks. Uncrustables, Gatorade, whatever so we decided we are going to try it right now until the end of the year and see how it goes. See if it makes enough revenue that we can continue keeping it open.”

Opening the cafeteria up after school takes lots of work behind the scenes to make the transition smoothly. Most importantly, a cafeteria worker needs to be able to stay extended hours to run the A La Carte station. To allow this to function, working hours for staff had to be shifted so instead of working in the morning they would work after school. Also, a new cafeteria worker was hired to work eleven to three to be able to work at lunch and then stay after school.

“If it gets to a point where the numbers are sustainable and worth us opening it then we will continue it for next year,” Linquist said.