Lunchroom Makeover

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - 1:55pm

High school gives cafeteria a massive makeover in hopes of encouraging healthy eating and good learning.

Don’t call it the Atlantic Community High School cafeteria.

It is now “Café Atlantic.”

It’s a place that offers a unique dining experience for students and it is not the school cafeteria you might remember from when you went to school.

If Café Atlantic looks more like the food court at the mall, there's a reason for it.

It's designed that way.

"The real goal is to give the kids what they want," explained Steven Bonino the food services director for Palm Beach County schools.

The Palm Beach County School District's Food Services Division has been working on the idea for about eight years.

Now, after three months of construction, students and some adults got their first taste of this nearly $300,000 dollar renovation Tuesday.

It's a healthy price tag; however, the idea is to encourage good eating for good learning.

"We want to encourage them to come have participation with us,” said Bonino, “not only for lunch but the breakfast program as well."

Different food stations are set up like restaurants with names like “Asian Experience” and “Café Sol Y Mar.”

They offer students everything from Asian to Latin cuisine, as well as Italian, burgers and sandwiches and even favorites from the deli.

Every station also has vegetarian dishes.

"It's really good,” said A.J. Puente, a student at Atlantic Community High School. “We're going to try each station out. Right now, the veggie burgers are really good. The hamburgers are good. The grilled chicken … everything's really good. I can't wait until the school year starts to actually have bigger portions of these."

"I think it's very good,” added Chad Ward, who also attends the school. “I mean, it's a great experience to eat a lot of foods. This gives us some bigger variety of foods than last year, some good food."

The menu is open to everyone, even those on subsidized meal plans.

Students are already enjoying the layout, complete with booths, pub height tables and traditional cafeteria seating set up for socializing.

"It's very good, actually,” said Jazmin Baidal, a senior. “I'm very impressed with how they changed everything up."

The Palm Beach County School District’s goal is to bring the concept of Café Atlantic to other schools.

The district does not have a timetable to renovate other schools yet; however, they hope to take some of the ideas they’re using at Atlantic Community High School to make lunchtime a better experience for all of their students.
 

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