Determination of projected direct labor time for two methods of satellite feeding: individual prepackaged plate meals and bulk transport meals

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The purpose of this study was to determine for two methods of satellite food service being used in school lunch programs--bulk and prepackaged plate--the direct labor time and costs for a specified number of meals served. Student customer acceptability for each type of service system was also investigated.

Time studies were used to collect the data for the direct labor requirements. Times were recorded with the use of a stopwatch on charts of the work processes and work elements involved in the central kitchen and in one satellite school for each service system. Readings from the stopwatch and an effort rating were begun from the time the prepared food was ready to be processed for transportation, through actual service to the child and clean-up in the satellite school. Data were collected in the Roanoke City School Food Service Department over a period of thirty days.

From these data, labor time and costs were projected for selected volume levels for both systems. Wage rates used to compute costs represented the highest food service wage rate plus fringe benefits currently paid in the school system.

Facial hedonic scales for acceptability of the service systems were given daily to twenty-five randomly selected elementary school students at the satellite schools.

The bulk service system, in this study, required less average total labor time and cost at volumes from 36 to 1,000 meals due to a reduction in total man-minutes and to a possibility for more economical employee scheduling. The bulk service system also was significantly more acceptable to elementary-aged children than the prepackaged plate.

From the economic and student acceptance data in this study, it appears that development of a bulk service system would be feasible for school food service satellite feeding.