Eatiquette – the Vetri Method for school lunch – aims to transform a child’s lunch from the traditional cafeteria assembly line to an environment where children gather around round tables, pass plates of food to one another, and experience social interaction and communication. Children learn to serve each other, to respect those who prepared their food, and to appreciate how healthy food makes them feel. They leave the lunchroom fueled up both physically and psychologically, ready to tackle the afternoon’s learning challenges.
Table Captains & Setting the Table
We make sure that children are involved and take ownership of the program. Each child gets to be a table captain for one week. The table captains come to the dining room 15 minutes before lunch is served to set the table, wearing special chef coats to indicate their important role. After their peers arrive, they bring the meal – in serving dishes – from the serving station to their tables and initiate the passing and serving. Table captains encourage their friends to try new food, to use good manners, and to be involved with conversation.
We make sure to let the children know what they’re eating! Once everyone is seated, the chef announces the menu for the day, ingredients used, and preparation methods. The students have a chance to engage with the chef, and learn to respect the people working hard to prepare their meal. If it isn’t possible for the chef to make an announcement before each lunch service, the menu is included in morning announcements. Adults love to know what good food is coming their way; kids do too.
Teachers, staff, and adult volunteers are essential to the success of this program. Ideally, there should be one adult per table. That adult models good behavior, helps children with portion size and passing the food, and initiates conversation. It’s teaching, just in a different context.
Just because we want kids to eat healthy doesn’t mean we’re unrealistic. Dessert is served after about 15 minutes of eating. This gives kids a chance to eat the good stuff first, with a sweet treat at the end of the meal where it belongs. We use fresh fruit as the highlight of our desserts, often simply served whole.
Clearing & Cleaning
Clean up is another great opportunity to teach teamwork. All children stack plates and scrape leftovers onto one of the serving trays. All children assist in wiping down the table. Table captains take the dirty dishes and silverware to a clean-up station with tubs for silverware, plates and serving dishes.
Ambiance & Details
Children sit at round tables that fit 8 to 10. This configuration allows children to pass food easily and conduct conversation. Family style eating creates an interactive environment where kids don’t just eat lunch; they dine. It’s important to uses reusable dishes and silverware for our lunch program. Disposable products cheapen the meal, create unnecessary waste, and add to the cost of each meal. We make the lunchroom a pleasant space. Too many lunchrooms look like hospital cafeterias: a little color and some interesting layouts can turn a simple room into an inviting atmosphere.
Eatiquette lunches change seasonally to highlight the freshest fruits and vegetables available.
For example, we’ve served:
Together with our partners we have served 526,540 healthy, family style meals.