Students returning to Southampton High School on Monday will be greeted with a new cafeteria, thanks to a $1.2 million renovation project this summer.
According to Regan Kiembock, director of food services for the district, the newly finished space has been designed to resemble more of a marketplace—or a food court—than a traditional student cafeteria.
“It has been a long time coming,” she said. “This will be a lot more attractive.”
The renovation project officially started on June 20. It included moving the snack bar from the far end of the cafeteria to a spot closer to the kitchen. Ms. Kiembock said the lines have been designed to flow more easily. An added bonus to moving the snack bar, she said, was the creation of a senior dining area, as a way to entice seniors to stay on campus for lunch.
The new area will also be aesthetically more pleasing, she said, noting that it is a glass storefront within the cafeteria, as opposed to just one large open space.
While the new and improved kitchen will have some of the old favorites, like an organic salad bar stocked from the school’s garden, there will also be some new additions, like paninis. The goal, Ms. Kiembock said, is to encourage students to eat well-balanced meals. She said that because study hall also takes place in the cafeteria, there will be opportunities for students to buy smaller snacks, like a bagel or a cup of tea, during those times.
“With all of the changes in school lunches, we want to encourage the kids to eat whole meals,” she said. “Everything is more appealing and more inviting now.”
The work in the kitchen is in its final stages, with new equipment—like a new combination oven—being installed. The district must have the Suffolk County Department of Health Services inspect the area before food can be put in the kitchen.
“It is all really exciting,” Ms. Kiembock said. “We kept whatever equipment was still good from last year and then got some new pieces.”
According to Dr. Scott Farina, the district superintendent, the high school needed a new cafeteria. He said there are no plans in the works to update either the elementary or intermediate school cafeterias.
“We think this is really going to make for a much nicer atmosphere for the students,” Dr. Farina said. “The old cafeteria was space limiting, and this will allow us to serve more students in a timely manner.”