Students at New Albany's high school and middle school are testing new cafeteria seating options that also could be used in the district's new school building.
"They're piloting the pieces," said district spokesman Patrick Gallaway. "While making (the cafeteria) more colorful, it obviously creates more types of seating environments."
Gallaway said district officials will gauge what seats are the most popular before deciding how to outfit the cafeteria for the new building, expected to open in the fall of 2014.
The high school and middle school cafeteria's round tables have been replaced with smaller tables that seat four each. The chairs have colored rubber backs and some are as tall as bar stools.
Seating also is available on the stage and in a classroom south of the stage, which is new.
"They can get in their little groups and have a conversation," Gallaway said. "It provides a lot more options for them so it's not so stressful at lunch."
Senior Danielle DeMicco said she likes the seating even though she and her friends have to put some tables together.
"It's more open and more communal," said senior Halle Herman. "I like the option to have small or larger group (seating)."
Gallaway said new booths will be installed in the cafeteria in the next couple of weeks.
Gallaway said the new seating cost $250,525.50, which was taken out of the food-services budget.
Pam Charles, the district's food-services coordinator, said the old seating will be sold on consignment.
Charles said food stations, which are painted in bright colors, have been separated to provide better service and different options.
Deli sandwiches were separated from the panini station, which is the most popular with students, she said.
"We sold 400 (Aug. 21)," Charles said of the panini sandwiches.
Another popular request is breakfast, which is why the district added a breakfast bar during lunch, Charles said.
"Kids love breakfast for lunch," she said, laughing.
A pizza bar features daily selections from local restaurants. Charles said all pizzas must have a whole wheat crust. Most restaurants top the pizzas with cheese and pepperoni but one brings in several toppings, she said.
Charles said the cafeteria also added some international fare -- Mexican dishes and Asian pasta -- to the regular serving line and a frozen yogurt station is planned.
All new additions are "all very in tune with what we have to do" to provide healthy food options, Charles said.
Bulletin boards also inform students about food options, encouraging them to try mango and lentils and to find good sources of protein, such as lean beef, chicken and pork.