What awaits K-12 operators this school year?

elementary school classroom

Several trends and regulatory changes are poised to impact school foodservice in the 2017-18 year. Here, we dive into a handful.

Potential confusion over meal policies

confused mom

Most schools participating in the National School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program must now distribute a written meal charging policy, but that doesn't eliminate the potential for misunderstanding on the part of parents or other stakeholders. “Broad interpretation can be dangerous,” FSD Kristen Hennessey said earlier this summer during a session at the School Nutrition Association’s annual conference, noting that FSDs should be as clear as possible in their respective policies and really spell things out. In addition, it's important to train people outside of foodservice staff on the policy, she said, from the superintendent to the board.

Relaxed food rules

whole grain breads

Regulations are less strict this time around, with schools gaining flexibility around whole-grain and flavored milk requirements, and receiving more time to meet the sodium reduction thresholds that were set to take effect this school year. Contending with such issues as falling participation and food waste, some FSDs welcomed the rollbacks to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act announced in May, while others pledged to push ahead with the healthful initiatives they already had underway.

More demand for local and less processed

school garden

FSDs expect scratch-made and local options to continue trending this school year and beyond. Many K-12 schools are turning to on-campus farms, gardens and even orchards to provide hyperlocal produce for student meals, while others are experimenting with new speed-scratch preps that shave off time from standard scratch methods. 

Ramped-up around-the-clock feeding

brown paper bags

Thirty percent of respondents to FSD’s 2017 K-12 Census said they offer after-school meals, while 19% provide other outside-hours options such as snacks or catering. Late last spring, a New York school district debuted vending machines that work on both ends of the school day, offering as many as eight bagged breakfast options that are also available after school until 10 p.m.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Italian food hall chain Eataly is making plans for a 2018 initial public offering in its home country, according to a report this week in Financial Times.

The company plans to list shares on the Italian stock exchange in Milan “as early as next year,” Eataly Executive Chairman Andrea Guerra told Financial Times .

Eataly is eager to expand the presence of its massive Italian food emporiums in the U.S., which have helped spur the growing food hall trend . The company has five locations here, with two in New York City and one each in Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston. Financial...

Industry News & Opinion

Students staffing the foodservice department at Rutgers University will soon get an hourly pay bump, as the New Brunswick, N.J., university is raising its wage for student workers to $11 an hour, philly.com reports.

The increase will go in effect Jan. 1 and will impact 13,000 students.

The fight to raise wages at the school was spearheaded by student group United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), which is continuing to push the university to increase student wages to $15.

The fight for a $15 wage for student workers has spread at schools throughout the country,...

Industry News & Opinion

After shutting down 265 schools due to ongoing wildfires, the Los Angeles Unified School District kept three schools open on Friday and Saturday to provide meals for students and their families, the Los Angeles Times reports.

At one of the schools, employees and volunteers handed out around 100 meals on Friday and 270 meals on Saturday. The meals included items such as dragonfruit punch, raisins, bananas, sunflower kernels, whole-grain cinnamon graham crackers, sunflower seed butter and fat-free chocolate milk.

Around 80% of students in the district come from low-income...

Sponsored Content
Breakfast chili

From Bush’s Best®.

While decadent plates of French toast and pancakes stacked high will always be breakfast favorites, it’s undeniable that savory breakfast items are on the rise in many foodservice operations. Menu items such as avocado toast and omelets aren’t new, of course, but consumers’ preferences for better-for-you food choices, along with their desire for global flavors, are driving this trend.

According to a recent Technomic Breakfast report, consumer demand for vegetarian ingredients has led to an increase of ingredients like soy, tofu, beans, lentils, seeds,...

FSD Resources