Yes, Chef!

Unique, exclusive kitchen experiences make a big impact.

Elementary students in McHenry School District 15 in Illinois were on their best behavior in SY2022-23, motivated by the opportunity to spend a lunch period on the other side of the serving line as a Guest Chef. This hugely popular experiential reward program is the brainchild of Kevin Harris, MS, Ed, SNS, Director of Foodservice, who first implemented it at another district, before the pandemic, and is tickled to see it embraced by students and staff alike at four of McHenry’s six elementary schools.

Many elementary schools across the country have adopted positive behavior programs that feature some type of a reward component as an incentive. At McHenry, these rewards come in the form of “dollars” or points that can accrue and be used to make purchases from the school store. While most items “for sale” are small, inexpensive items like pencils, erasers, bookmarks and the like, unique “experiences” are highly prized. At his former district, Harris was inspired by a popular “Lunch with the Principal” experience that could be purchased with good-behavior points, and he subsequently dreamed up a cafeteria-centric opportunity—one that is inexpensive and super simple to implement...