The importance of Food Service for Summer Camps is sometimes overlooked until the last minute and this is a huge mistake.
With your Camps food playing a huge role in overall registration numbers, it really should be a priority. Over the past 5 years, the Summer Camp Food Service impact has grown in a big way. People have certain expectations these days vs what they have had in the past for what their kids are eating at Summer Camp and the experience that they are getting related to food.
Let’s dive a little deeper into what that means and how you can facilitate positive results on your food service surveys and avoid phone calls from parents about the food at your camp.
THE MENU AND VARIETY
The menu for Summer Camp should have options, and one way to increase the offering is by putting a salad bar on your menu. This can include 20+ items, be beneficial for both campers and staff, and supplement healthy eating at camp. Another thing you can do is make sure that special diets are covered on the menu. Make sure that every meal has a preset special diets section so that these campers and staff feel included and that the food they get is not thrown together last minute.
Making sure that there is enough food is another big one. No one wants to hear from parents that their kids are hungry at camp. Make adjustments with your Food Service Director, Food Service Manager, or Head Chef so that you can eliminate this issue. Extra food can easily be repurposed and used instead of being wasted.
Having someone that is in charge of the Food Service for your Camp is a huge plus. This will translate into continuity and standards that will play a role every summer. Additionally, staffing your kitchen accordingly (Approximately 1 kitchen staffer for every 25-35 people being fed) will go a long way. Do not try to cut your budget in the kitchen to make up for some other part of your operation. It will come back to bite you. The kitchen never sleeps, is a hard job, and requires long hours and dedication to the cause. You do not want to burn out your Chefs by week 3. Be mindful of how many people the kitchen really needs, get good feedback from your Chefs, and take them seriously. Another option is always to outsource this part of your Camp Operation.
This is proving to be more and more difficult for Camps to staff their kitchens with Chefs that have the know how and experience to run an efficient camp kitchen. Ultimately, this requires a lot of time vetting and interviewing potential candidates. The difficulty in that is that most people doing the interviewing are not able to get a grasp on whether or not a candidate will actually be able to do the job - and that can be problematic. Staffing a Summer Camp kitchen is a whole job in itself. For the kitchen support, we always recommend using an organization that provides international staff. This has proven to be a great way to go and creates a diverse kitchen experience for all involved.
The landscape for Summer Camp Food Service has been changing drastically, proving to be more demanding on the kitchen, thus requiring better organization, planning, and execution of the Food Service Program.
In conclusion, all of these items should be taken into consideration when creating your Food Service Plan. This aspect of camp is impacting your registrations more than you know and we should make sure to put an emphasis on feeding kids well and keeping them energized so that they can get the most out of the camp experience.
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