The Juneau (AK) School District has awarded its foodservice contract to Chartwells School Dining Services, which will help the district revamp its breakfast and lunch offerings and enhance the cafeteria environment for 5,000 students in six elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools, an alternative high school, a K-8 charter school and a Montessori program (grade 1-8) within the district. The new agreement will go into effect on July 1, 2014.

"Chartwells was chosen as our new foodservice provider due to the company's commitment to the students: feeding healthy and delicious meals that also adhere to nutrition and safety guidelines," says Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich. "We were very impressed with the variety of meal choices and healthy food selections the company offers, as well as its business expertise in making better use of labor and increasing the use of existing equipment, all of which will result in enhanced and improved dining experiences for our students."

Among the planned changes are the addition of serving stations featuring a variety of comfort foods, international flavors, fresh crisp greens, lean meat proteins, fruits and vegetables in appealing combinations. Other specialties being made available each day will include grab and go salads, sandwiches, fruit and yogurt parfaits, hot and cold meal combinations, sandwich and salad bars and hot and cold breakfast options.

"We take great pride in providing students with nutritious foods that they actually like to eat," says Chartwells Regional VP Kevin Nelson. "All of our serving stations, menus and programming were developed after extensive research with students, parents and school administrators and are uniquely tailored to each school level."

Each cafeteria will also get a mini makeover with new serving station equipment based on the needs of each kitchen. Other changes include colorful, branded signage featuring nutrition messaging.

"Eating at school is like eating at any restaurant," says Nelson. "You must create an inviting atmosphere so customers enjoy the experience and want to come back. We want this to be a place where students can congregate and socialize with friends while also consuming healthy and delicious food."

Chartwells will also hosting various promotions throughout the school year to teach students about the importance of eating healthy, well-balanced meals. The company's Simply Good nutritional campaigns, for example, highlight important topics such as sustainable eating, breakfast and how to eat a complete meal. Monthly food focuses encourage students to try seasonal and nutrient-rich foods including apples, whole grains, yogurt, turkey, legumes and citrus.

Chartwells also hosts a Chefs2Schools program where professional and celebrity chefs come into the schools to sample and demo new, healthy recipes that students may be unfamiliar with. These campaigns also filter into the classrooms when possible with curriculum that aligns with what is happening in the cafeteria.

"Chartwells is committed to providing nutritious, high quality meals that will get students through their day.  We look forward to serving the students and the Juneau community," Nelson says. "Each day we come to school, we strive to make a positive impact, on the students, school officials, parents and members of the community."

Chartwells is a division of Compass Group North America and provides dining services for more than 550 public school districts and private schools, encompassing over 4,000 elementary, middle and high schools sites nationwide.