This post contains everything you ever wanted to know about the Space Capsule Lunches I coordinated for my daughter's school.
Our amazing Hospitality Committee and Room Parents volunteered to make personalized “Space Capsule” lunches for every staff member at the school. To make that task as easy as possible, I asked the staff to complete a lunch questionnaire.
NEW THIS YEAR! To streamline the questionnaire process I created an online questionnaire using Google Forms. I emailed the individual staff responses to the parent signed up to make the lunch. Using an online questionnaire saved me at least three hours of data entry. I cannot believe I didn't use an online form sooner! Here is an article about creating a survey using Google Forms.
The day after I distributed Appreciation Week invitations, I sent an email to the staff with the questionnaire link and asked everyone to complete it by the following Wednesday. I asked the following questions:
2. What time do you eat lunch?
3. What is your favorite sandwich? (Please include type of bread and condiments.)
4. What is your favorite type of salad? (Please include dressing, if applicable.)
5. What is your favorite side dish? (Chips, fresh fruit, fresh veggies, soup, nuts, etc.)
6. What is your favorite take out? (Please include the restaurant and specific menu item.)
7. What is your favorite dessert?
8. What is your favorite beverage?
9. Do you have any food allergies?
NEW THIS YEAR! I included “What time do you eat lunch?” on the survey. (Remember, our school staff eats in three shifts.) Having the lunch time clearly listed on the questionnaire made sorting much easier and significantly reduced the number of late lunch deliveries.
In addition to the Space Capsule Lunch Decoration Kits (more on that below), the parents were THRILLED about the take-out option for the staff. Confession time, I have always gone to Panera to buy the lunches I signed up for.
If you do include a take-out section, be sure to ask for specific menu items and restaurant. Someone telling you they like Thai food is not particularly helpful. My favorite Thai dish is Broccoli Delight with Chicken, zero stars. My husband is more of a "Give me the weirdest item on the menu and make it as hot as you can," kind of guy.
THE SIGN UP
Let's start with the SignUp Genius form. You should include every staff member. Don't forget the lunch ladies and night janitor! Be sure to ask the school secretary or office manager for the following information:
- Current student teachers (they come and go throughout the year)
- A list of staff not working on the day of the Hero Sandwich Lunch
- The staff lunch schedule. Lunches are usually staggered. You want to make sure that a staff member eating lunch at 10:45am actually has a lunch to eat!
Recruiting parents to make lunches for teachers and favorite staff members like the librarian and music teacher is easy. You may struggle to find volunteers for staff members that parents and kids don't see often, like the janitor. If you are having a hard time filling all your slots, ask the room parents to reach out to the other classroom parents. There are so many parents willing to help when they know there is a need. Just ask!
Coordinating personalized lunches for every staff member is hands down the most time intensive event of the entire week, but it is our staff's very favorite event. (I know this because I sent out a survey after Appreciation Week last year.)
The feedback I heard from parents was that they didn’t mind making lunches, but decorating the lunches was very intimidating. If you’ve seen the past lunches, you know that some parents go ALL OUT.
To alleviate their concerns and encourage volunteers, I designed a Space Capsule Lunch Decoration Kit that parents could purchase if they so chose. I had no problem recruiting parents to make lunches this year. Lunch decoration kits = WIN!
Tips For A Successful Lunch
The lunches at our school are staggered from 10:45-12:30 so this year I sorted the lunches by time on six foot tables at the back of the room. Sorting the lunches by time made it a snap to find the lunches, and having them on a table in the back (instead of the lunch tables) gave the teachers and staff plenty of space to eat their lunch.
Print out your SignUp Genius sheet and bring it with you to the staff lounge, along with a school directory. As the lunches come in, cross them off the sign up sheet. Hopefully all of the lunches will be delivered with time to spare, but prepare for the worse. Start making phone calls 20 minutes before lunch if any meals have not been delivered.
Make one or two extra lunches, just in case a parent forgets.
- Bring ice and some extra cups. Drinks will be included in each lunch, but after sitting out for an hour or so, they may be sort of lukewarm. The teachers and staff will appreciate the ice.
It's Your Turn!
This is just one event from our "Out of This World!" space-themed Appreciation Week. You can read about the other days and activities below.