K-12 menus get simpler

grilled chicken and veggies

From Foster Farms.

If you look at the major trends shaping menus in schools across the country, many of them come down to less. Less ingredients, less processed, less on the plate and less additives are all ideas that have come to define the future of foodservice—particularly at the K-12 level. That’s because of a growing scientific consensus that simplifying our diet and reducing our portions can have lasting health benefits, particularly when adopted at a young age.

Many consumers have a rocky relationship with the concept of less. For decades, people have celebrated the ability to grow more, create more and eat more. Even as it’s become increasingly obvious that those attitudes haven’t produced the healthy population we’d hope to have, it has still been challenging for many to give up the foods they’ve come to love and crave.

One of the reasons it has been difficult to change dietary habits is that for a long time, healthier products didn’t necessarily offer the same flavor and satisfaction as the options we’ve grown accustomed to. Today, that’s changing. Greater interest from food producers combined with new technology and a deeper understanding of fundamental nutrition has led to options that many consumers find just as appealing as the older items they’ve replaced. That’s important because for both parents and students alike, the interest in healthier lifestyles has steadily increased over time and that trend doesn’t look poised to end any time soon.

Today, many products that address important health concerns have made their way onto K-12 menus, and often, students aren’t even aware of the changes. Students are enjoying their favorite foods and dishes while at the same time getting less preservatives, antibiotics and other artificial ingredients.

Meal favorites such as chicken nuggets, spicy chicken patty sandwiches, pasta with chicken meatballs and grilled chicken strips can now all be made from chicken raised without antibiotics. With less of what you don’t want and the same great taste, it’s this type of revolution that’s enabling the next phase for menus at school districts across the country.

The future has more of “less” in store as the food industry continues to improve its offerings to meet the evolving consensus on the best way to approach eating. As more products hit the market that offer the same flavor kids love with less of what they don’t need, it will become even easier for school districts to serve their students more of less.

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