Nutrition and Meal Service

From the time Job Corps students wake in the morning until they go to bed in the evening, they depend on the food served in cafeterias, or made available through vending machines and in dorms, for nourishment and energy. Follow the links below to suggestions on simple, moderate and large-scale changes for all areas of student nutrition. Start with small changes and move on to the next level after you have successfully implemented most or all of your initial changes.

You should not limit possibilities for changes with information supplied on these pages. Use your creativity in generating and incorporating healthy ideas into your daily operations.

In this section, you can learn about:


Cafeteria Changes

When students walk into the cafeteria, are they tempted by French fries and burgers or are they greeted with an array of nutrtious options? There is nothing wrong with an occasional comforting treat, but daily meals should provide balanced nutrition and include whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meat or vegetarian protein.

Several resources exist to help plan healthy recipes within a budget. The School Nutrition Association (SNA) provides information to foodservice professionals and child nutrition programs. The U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service's School Meals Child Nutrition Programs website also provides information on federal school meal programs.

Want information on specific products? Visit the Alliance for a Healthier Generation website and explore the Smart Snacks section. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation continuously updates healthy products for cafeterias. (Free registration required to receive the updates.)

Below are a few of the simple, moderate and large-scale changes to cafeteria food service specifically for Job Corps' food service:

  • Order herbs and seasonings that do not contain salt or Monosodium glutamate (MSG). Herbs and salt-free seasonings (e.g. Mrs. Dash) add flavor to foods without adding unhealthy amounts of salt.
  • If students are permitted second helpings, set standards for smaller servings the second time they come through the line.
  • Limit use of canned fruits such as fruit cocktail. Serve fresh or flash-frozen fruits. Serve fruit salad and/or whole fruits at every meal.
  • Eliminate soda and other sugary beverages from cafeteria food service. Provide other beverage choices, such as milk, water and fruit juice.
  • Standardize portion sizes. Compile a list or put together a booklet of all frequently served menu items so portions remain consistent each time an item is served.

The complete Simple Changes in Cafeteria Food Service checklist is available. After you finish with the simple changes, move to moderate, then to large-scale changes. (All checklists are in the same document.)

Changes to Vending Practices

Students visit vending machines when in need of a snack or beverage between meals. Vending machines are notorious for offering fattening sugary or salty snacks and carbonated beverages. Students will not be able to make healthy choices if none are available. By replacing some of the unhealthy snacks with healthier options, encouraging students to make healthier choices, and manipulating prices to encourage healthy eating, students will consume healthier snacks and develop healthier eating habits.

Below are a few of the simple, moderate and large-scale changes to vending:

  • Place signs on machines encouraging students to drink more water.
  • Label snacks that are healthier choices.
  • Offer carbonated beverages only in certain machines and limit the number of these machines.

The complete Simple Changes in Cafeteria Food Service checklist is available. After you finish with the simple changes, move to moderate, then to large-scale changes. (All checklists are in the same document.)

Nighttime Snacks

The following are a few of the changes to the availability of nighttime snacks:

  • Offer low-fat/non-fat milk, juice or water with snacks in lieu of carbonated beverages.
  • Ensure filtered or bottled water is available to students free of charge in the evenings.
  • Ensure that all snacks offered are healthy. Allow students to have a less healthy snack two to four times per month at most.

The complete Simple Changes in Cafeteria Food Service checklist is available. After you finish with the simple changes, move to moderate, then to large-scale changes. (All checklists are in the same document.)

Return to Top​​