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.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

In a bid to beef up its presence in sports arenas and a variety of other large venues, Sodexo will acquire foodservice vendor Centerplate for $675 million.

Sodexo says the deal, which is expected to be finalized by the end of this year, will more than double its global footprint.

Centerplate, which serves as the foodservice operator for a number for stadiums, convention halls and other event spaces, brought in revenues of $998 million for the year ending June 2017, according to Sodexo. Centerplate was purchased five years ago by Olympus Partners, a private-equity company...

Menu Development
eggs

Loyola University Maryland took a new approach to all-day breakfast with an egg-focused concept.

Breakfast options were top of mind for students when asked what they would like to see on the menu at the university’s revamped Boulder Garden Cafe. Instead of creating an all-day breakfast station, however, the Baltimore-based dining team went beyond traditional options and created a concept that services all mealparts with eggs.

“It can be somewhat mundane,” says Executive Chef Don Crowther on why the team strayed away from the trendy all-day breakfast. At the eatery’s Sunny...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Kansas has added a retail pass that allows students to purchase one to-go combo meal per day at cafes and markets on campus, the University Daily Kansan reports.

The pass is available on two different meal plans and is geared toward on-the-go students who don’t have the time to sit down and eat at a residence hall.

“It has increased the participation rate,” Jamie Reed, a service assistant for the school’s dining services, told the University Daily Kansan.

Over 1,800 students have used the pass since its debut at the beginning of the semester....

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Minnesota dining team has created a vegan student group in an effort to improve the school’s vegan offerings, Minnesota Daily reports.

The group was created by the school’s foodservice vendor, Aramark, and its campus sustainability coordinator, who is vegan, after receiving numerous complaints from students about the lack of vegan options on campus.

The group will this week host its first meeting, during which members will be able to share feedback and provide solutions to help enhance the school’s vegan offerings. Members will also keep a photo journal...

FSD Resources