If you are in charge or organising catering for the school graduation ceremony you'll want to find food that makes the occasion feel suitably special and grown-up for the parents and students while staying within your given budget. Here are some ways that you can help to reduce the costs and get great food.
Get the students involved
If you have some awesome student cooks in your food services courses it can be great to give them some experience in organising a function menu such as your graduation menu. This allows students to get some of the experience of shopping for items, cooking large quantities and presenting the food in an attractive way. This helps to reduce the costs of cooking in terms of labour and allows you to make use of some of the onsite facilities you already have such as the cooking classrooms.
You can also plan for some of the classes to make use of your gardens to grow some ingredients such as herbs which can be relatively pricey to purchase. This experience can help give students practical experience and a potential reference if they are aiming to get a role in hospitality after they graduate. You can often use the year level below the graduating class to cater and waitstaff the event.
Get the parents involved
It can also be useful to canvass the parents to see which parents may have contacts or resources that can help you create a great atmosphere. This could include getting trade prices on fresh produce and meat or other food stuff or finding people that have access to equipment such as function tables, chairs and cutlery or crockery. Saving money on equipment hire or reducing food costs can also allow you to stretch the budget further while keeping the function classy. This can also help the parents to feel involved in the school community, including busy working parents who may not have as many chances to get involved during the year due to their time commitments.
Consider outsourcing the catering service
As the date of graduation is fixed in advance, you can often get extremely competitive prices from local catering services. They can also make the most of the seasonal food items in your area as well as using the economies of scale that they have from their business. You may find that the catering service can create a great menu that meets your budget, based on their extensive experience in creating menus for similar functions.