Part 5: Other Styles of Meal Service

In addition to family style meal service, you may occasionally try other styles of serving meals. Buffet style or picnics are other types of meal service that can add variety and interest to the way meals are served and enjoyed.

Buffet Style

Children serve themselves from plates, baskets, and trays lined up on a table or counter.
This method can be used occasionally with older children who can handle serving utensils safely and independently.


Food can be packed in a basket or cooler and served on picnic tables. Be sure that cold foods are kept cold (at 41°F or lower), and hot foods are kept hot (at 135°F or higher). Follow all food safety guidelines while eating outdoors. For more tips on keeping food safe on picnics, see Module 5, Part 3 on Field Trips in the Food Safety course.

Sometimes, you may want to try other methods of meal service, but keep in mind that family style meal service is the recommended style to use with young children.