Best performing menu items by daypart

At schools, chicken sandwiches dominate morning and midday.

chicken sandwich

Crowd-pleasing takes on a much heavier meaning when the size of that crowd is 30 million children per day. Of course, school foodservice professionals face the added obligation of providing meals that are both healthy and hearty enough to fuel kids through the school day, and yet familiar and friendly enough that youngsters will eat them—and fast. Market researcher Technomic tracks menus from 150 schools in the top 50 school districts. Here are the items that are holding their ground, and gaining ground, in K–12 foodservice. 


Protein—delivered in sandwich form, especially—is raising its performance on school breakfast menus, with chicken sandwiches, sausages and bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwiches all gaining steam. Overall, breads (43 percent) such as muffins, bagels and toast are the most prevalent add-ons at breakfast. Fruit represents 28 percent of breakfast sides in schools.

Most common breakfast entrees:

  • Pancakes
  • Sausage biscuit/sandwich
  • Chicken sandwich

Fastest-growing breakfast entrees:

  • Chicken sandwich
  • Bagel
  • Bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich

Most common breakfast sides

  • Cereal/granola
  • Apple
  • Muffin

Fastest-growing breakfast sides:

  • Sausages
  • Apples
  • Cinnamon rolls


While pizza, burgers and chicken nuggets still are everywhere on school lunch menus, on-trend items such as beans and chicken sandwiches are showing up and growing, as policies and preferences tend toward more healthful options.

Most common lunch entrees:

  • Chicken sandwich
  • Burger
  • Chicken nuggets

Fastest-growing lunch entrees:

  • Chicken dish
  • Pizza
  • Salads

Most common lunch sides:

  • Beans
  • Breads
  • Mixed vegetables

Fastest-growing lunch sides:

  • Broccoli
  • Green beans
  • Salad

Most common desserts (by category):

  • Baked goods
  • Pudding/gelatin
  • Ice cream

Fastest growing desserts:

  • Frozen yogurt/sherbet
  • Ice cream
  • Apples

FoodService Director partnered with Technomic for this article. Technomic, a Winsight market research firm, provided data from its MenuMonitor 2016 K–12 Menu Snapshot report.

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