As anyone who works in K-12 foodservice can attest, feeding hungry kids is a tough job. From satisfying picky palates to meeting nutritional guidelines, there are a lot of things foodservice operators have to keep in mind when creating a menu. Snacks are no different: They have to meet the same nutritional guidelines as other foods do, so what kids might snack on outside of school may be different from what they pick while they’re there. That said, there are a few trends that foodservice operators can follow for inspiration when planning a snack strategy. Joanne Kinsey, a foodservice consultant who specializes in the K-12 segment and is the owner of The Kinsey Kompany, weighed in on four trends in K-12 snacking that operators can draw inspiration from for their own menus.
Convenient and portable items are crucial in the K-12 environment. Kids may not plan on eating the snack they buy the minute they buy it, so they look for snacks that can be eaten on-the-go or in the classroom. Kinsey also noted that the rise of vending in schools is contributing to this trend. Kids look for portable food items that they can take with them wherever they may be going.
One thing operators should be aware of, however, is making sure to tailor the snacks to the age group they’re meant for. For instance, some snacks may be more appealing to younger diners, while high schoolers may think those foods are “just for kids.” Be sure to have a variety on hand so everyone can find something they like.
Popular grab-and-go options can include cheese-flavored baked crackers, yogurt parfaits, cereal bars and more.
Wholesome whole grains
It’s important to offer a variety of wholesome food options to students like snacks made with whole grains. While that may not be exciting to kids, there are plenty of tasty snacks that kids reach for and love that meet these requirements. For instance, Goldfish® Giant Grahams Baked with Whole Grain can serve as the perfect accompaniment to breakfast items such as hard-boiled eggs or yogurt parfaits, and baked cheese crackers such as Goldfish® crackersare ideal for lunchtime snacks.
Kinsey noted that kids tend to gravitate toward snacks they recognize from their parents’ shopping carts. And as more parents look for foods made with real ingredients and no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners, it follows that those foods are the same ones kids will be interested in at schools. For instance, jerkies made with real beef and no artificial flavorings are popping up in schools as companies formulate them to be counted as a protein, as are whole foods such as fruit and vegetable snacks. Apple slices with nut butter and carrot sticks with hummus, for instance, are two examples of snacks made with wholesome ingredients that kids will love.
Offer an array of whole foods and snacks made with real ingredients to appeal to kids who are interested in these healthy options.
Operators will always have a win if they continue to offer crowd-pleasing favorites. Fruit-and-oat bars made with real fruit, plus breakfast cookies and bars, are great for the morning hours; brands are continually adding to their lineup of flavors, so kids will usually have something new to pick from. Yogurt is another mainstay: Low-fat dairy that’s high in protein and made with real fruit will help keep kids satisfied. And of course, sweet treats including crispy rice bars made with marshmallows will be huge hits.
Even as trends skew toward healthy options and ones that meet nutrition guidelines, sweet snacks and familiar options will always be products that are successful in schools.
Learn more about the K-12 snacks Campbell’s offers at campbellsfoodservice.com.
SERVE A BRAND THAT KIDS AND PARENTS LOVE AT YOUR SCHOOL
Bring smiles to students by serving Goldfish® Crackers and Grahams in your school. Goldfish® is the most popular cracker brand among households with kids under 12. With a wide variety of products that contain no artificial flavors or preservatives—including options made with whole grains—Goldfish® can help create fun, delicious and wholesome meals. As part of a grab-n-go breakfast, school lunch or à la carte option, Goldfish® can help fuel kids throughout the day.
At Campbell’s Foodservice, we want to make it easy for you to serve products that can help meet nutritional requirements while making students happy. Goldfish® Crackers and Grahams can be the key to boosting participation and smiles in your school.
Source: IRI Total U.S. All Outlets, latest 52 weeks through January 2019