All You Can Eat Every Day

SAGE Dining brings choice, tasty food and no wait to school lunches beginning next fall.

Lunch is one the most important meals of the day, and no one wants to miss it. Whether it’s talking and laughing with friends around the lunch table or taking care of those hunger pangs, lunch is a time to take a break from the busy day and relax for a few minutes.

Beginning in the fall, students will also be able to try new things, choose from many options and eat all they want when the school introduces the new SAGE lunch program.

“The program will be ‘campus inclusive,’ which means all students participate with a one-time fee up front. This means no need for lunch accounts or check-out lines,” said Assistant Head of School-Business and Operations Mr. John Klingstedt.

The program provides improved choices of food to the school’s lunch time. SAGE’s main goal is to educate students how to maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet while also enjoying the vast options of foods that will be provided. Being able to taste different types of foods will allow individuals to test what they like and what they don’t like.

The whole idea of changing the way the school does lunches began based on student and parent feedback. Over the past three years, the school had received complaints about the food quality and pricing of the food available.

A task force was formed 18-months ago to investigate concerns with the existing lunch program in terms of nutrition, food selection and availability, and service time. Mr. Klingstedt said, “We found ourselves faced with declining quality and increased prices from our current provider, so we began to study other schools.”

Some of the major issues were the limited selection, items running out before all the students could go through the line and the logistics of the check-out lines that caused delays.

Most private schools in the area operate in a similar way to the new program, and the task force found SAGE Dining at schools around the area and liked what they saw. “They operate very similar to a dining program at the university level…having a registered dietitian, local management and on-site chefs provided by SAGE Dining. That was part of what drew us to this new service,” said Mr. Klingstedt.

Students are the ones who will be eating the food every day, and in order to achieve happy and quality lunch times, the food has to be enticing.

Junior Ashton Lott toured the SAGE lunch programs at other schools to give fellow students a perspective on what to expect. Ashton said, “I went in with very low expectations. I had heard some iffy things about it, but it ended up being very, very good, like restaurant quality.”

The company itself, SAGE Dining, currently operates in many local private schools in the area including Trinity Christian, Greenhill, Parish Episcopal, Episcopal School of Dallas, Legacy Christian and many others.

Lower School Assistant Principal Mrs. Jan Jeffcoat toured Greenhill and Episcopal School of Dallas on behalf of the Lower School. Lower School students will choose from a variety of dishes with the help of their teachers and SAGE aides. Mrs. Jeffcoat said, “One way that the SAGE program will help is by educating students on how to ‘eat the rainbow,’ which means eating foods of all different colors in order to teach them which foods they should have more of, which ones in moderation and which ones on a limited basis.”

Mrs. Paige Mayhew, mother of three sons, one in Seventh grade, one in Eighth and one a Sophomore, was asked to attend the trip to view other SAGE programs. As a parent, she was able to gather a different perspective from a student or faculty member.

Mrs. Mayhew had three favorite things about this program. “First, I actually went in with an intentional mindset of a picky eater. I am so thankful to honestly say that there were plenty of great options that a kid would enjoy. Second, I also have a student with multiple allergies and was relieved to see hot entrees and other options. Third, my boys won’t have to experience a crazy mom trying to get lunches made quickly every morning,” said Mrs. Mayhew.

Students that currently buy their lunches will save money on an annual basis. “It will be like a college dining hall. The fee for Upper School students will average out to a cost of just over $5 per day for all-you-can-eat food with no check-out lines,” said Mr. Klingstedt. With no need for checkout lines, lunch will go faster and more smoothly with more time spent at the table with friends rather than standing in line.

With the new break for lunch being after second and sixth period, Seniors will be routinely eating on campus. However, there will be off-campus lunch available for them every Wednesday.

Students also will not be limited from bringing outside lunches into the cafeteria, but the new food options offer a more nutritious and balanced diet than was previously available.

“With the multiple entrées, sandwich counters, soup/salad bars, etc., we think there will always be something students will like,” said Mr. Klingstedt. Whether looking for something healthy or something sweet, the variety will always be there with no wait and it will never run out.