Since the coronavirus pandemic started, school foodservice operators have stopped at nothing to continue providing meals to their students. From deliveries by school bus to meal distribution in the rain, schools proved there was a will and a way to feed their students despite the circumstances. Cobb County School District not only successfully fed their students but brought fun and positivity while they did it.
Utilizing the Camshelving® Premium Series Flex Station, Emily Hanlin, Executive Director of Food and Nutrition Services at CCSD, was able to seamlessly navigate each change her schools went through to provide meals. Hanlin originally purchased Cambro’s Flex Stations in 2019 to create a Grab-N-Go breakfast program at some of CCSD’s schools. Hanlin had already used the Flex Stations while working with another school district and knew it was the product they needed.
“I have schools that are taking a three-tiered kitchen cart, a drink barrel and a cooler with milk in it. They’re rolling 18 things down the hall to get to somewhere they can serve breakfast. Where with [the Flex Station], we can put all of that on that one system and we just roll. It only takes one person to get the meals to where we need them to go,” said Hanlin.
“We actually were able to buy a majority of the carts we have through breakfast grants, which has been fantastic. Now, we roll all over the place.”
The Flex Stations have lived up to the flexibility their name suggests, proving to be far more valuable than just a breakfast cart. When their 112 schools were closed in March, Hanlin used their Flex Stations to help support meal distribution at some of their pickup sites.
“We’ve really tried to be smart about what we’ve purchased for these mobile opportunities for feeding, and what’s nice about the Cambro product is it gives us the ability to down the road as things change, we can continue to modify and change it. I can convert it to shelves if shelves work better, I can take the shelves out and put bins in. The ability to flex it as my needs change without me having to buy a whole new piece of equipment is huge,” said Hanlin.
At the time we spoke with Hanlin, their schools were operating both virtually and in-person and the Flex Stations have resumed their breakfast duties. Additionally, high schools with Flex Stations use them as a mobile Grab-N-Go kiosk during lunch to increase social distancing. Next, Hanlin would like to use the Flex Stations to offer snacks in between classes.
“We’re really looking at every possible way we can use [the Flex Stations] to get to where the kids are and give them opportunities to buy things,” said Hanlin.
After CCSD’s high schools started using their Flex Stations last year, Hanlin said participation increased an average of 10 percent. The most successful schools get creative with their Flex Stations by decorating them for each season and surveying the students about what offerings they’d like to see.
Whether your school goes back to meal distribution or opens up to in-person learning, choosing adaptable products like the Flex Station will allow you to easily roll with the punches. The Flex Station is made from durable, hygienic Camshelving and affords the ability to choose from shelves, food pans or food boxes. Contact your your THG Sales Rep to get started today.