K-12 Census: Making the effort

As the battle over menu regulations wages on, schools continue to combat increased costs and food waste.

While the fight to address school nutrition standards and increase funding drags on in Washington, school foodservice directors are struggling to hold off challenges at home in their districts. To get an update on the scope of the issue, FoodService Director magazine enlisted market research firm (and sister company) Technomic to survey our readers for the 2016 K-12 Census.

Students’ needs are great, and the pressure to deliver higher-quality, better-for-you options is multiplying—and not only from regulators. More than half of school foodservice operators expect to increase the amount of locally sourced items on their menus in the next two years. Nearly half expect gluten-free items to rise, while the same number expect to do more scratch cooking.

That’s all while budgets continue to be squeezed by rising costs and greater food waste, the result of regulations that lawmakers continue to debate in Congress. Read on for our 2016 K-12 Census report, a current snapshot of what school operators are facing.

At a glance

72% of respondents say food waste has increased since implementing the fruit requirement at breakfast.

86% say their overall breakfast costs have gone up.

43% have seen their lunch participation rates go down this year, compared to last year.

58% find it extremely or very challenging meeting sodium reduction requirements.

Yet very few operators are dropping out of the National School Lunch Program.

In addition, many school FSDs are feeding students beyond the bell via catering, as well as after-school, supper or summer-feeding programs.


Who we surveyed

207 Number of school foodservice directors.

82% self-operated.

17% contract-managed.

1% partly self-operated and partly contract-managed.

26 Average number of schools in these districts.

49% Average percentage of students who qualify for free and/or reduced-price meals.

Pages

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Amherst-Pelham Regional School District in Amherst, Mass., is updating its lunch debt policy to no longer single out students, MassLive reports.

Under the new policy, students with lunch debt will be given the same meals as their peers, regardless of how much they owe. School officials will also be communicating directly with parents of students who have accumulated debt instead of through the students themselves.

The updated policy comes just before U.S. school districts will be required to publicly list their lunch debt policies, per new USDA requirements starting July 1...

Menu Development
eureka

Since California’s state motto is “Eureka!” it seems fitting that a recent conversation with the director of hospitality at San Diego’s Palomar Health led to the biggest aha moment I’ve had in a long time.

I called Jim Metzger in late April with the purpose of discussing Palomar’s recent commitment to the goal of making 60% of its total menu plant-based by this summer. It seemed a lofty number, and I was curious how the public health system planned to get there.

But my personal eureka didn’t come while we were talking about how Palomar had cleaned up the impulse-buy zones...

Industry News & Opinion

Labeling foods with indulgent buzzwords such as “sweet sizzlin’” and “crispy” can lead consumers to make healthier food choices , according to a recent study out of Stanford University .

In the fall 2016 study, researchers labeled vegetables in one of the school’s dining halls using terms from four categories: basic, healthy restrictive, healthy positive or indulgent.

The green beans, for example, were listed as “green beans” for basic, “light ‘n’ low-carb green beans and shallots” for healthy restrictive, “healthy energy boosting green beans and shallots” for healthy...

Ideas and Innovation
sparkling water

Our carbonated soft drink sales at Earls.67 reflect a national trend; we’re continually down on carbonated soft drink sales by 8% to 9% on an annual basis,” says Cameron Bogue, beverage director at the contemporary-casual chain Earls Kitchen + Bar.

The issue with spa water

Many operators are intrigued with the offering, but they are learning that infused water can’t be offered at a cost to guests unless there is added value beyond cut-up fruit. Bogue says, “I was adamant that I didn’t want to charge for spa water.”

Agua fresca alternatives

At the original location of

...

FSD Resources