1. Breakfast all day
At the top of the list for the second year, all-day breakfast will continue to be popular with students. According to Chartwells K12, students enjoy traditional morning meal items, such as breakfast burritos, throughout the day as well as more creative dishes such as a spicy chicken and tater tot breakfast biscuit sandwich and breakfast fried rice.
3. Performance-boosting foods
The return of sports and afterschool activities also means students are looking for meals that will help them perform better in and out of the classroom. Dishes such as fajita chicken and rice bowls and hummus dip with veggies and flatbread will be popular with students, Chartwells K12 says.
4. Veggies in the spotlight
Veggies continue to take the center of the plate by storm, and Chartwells K12 expects students to keep placing high importance on foods that are healthy for them and the planet. Watermelon edamame poke, kung pao tofu stir-fry and vegetarian sweet potato and white bean chili are some of the veggie-forward options the company is serving to students.
5. Homegrown produce
Many kids started growing produce at home while participating in remote learning last year. Now that they’re learning in person again, Chartwells K12 says that students are looking to enjoy school meals that use produce grown locally or even right on campus. Schools can use tools such as hydroponic gardens to provide fresh produce for meals year-round.
6. Global flavors
Curry masala-roasted chicken wings and a Middle Eastern breakfast scramble with potatoes, caramelized onions and spiced tomatoes are just some of the many global dishes that students will be craving in 2022, says Chartwells K12. As students return to the lunchroom, they will seek out global flavors that represent their own heritage as well as those of their peers.
7. Meals that can be enjoyed together
As students gather in the classroom and cafeteria once more, there will be an increased emphasis on communal dining. Chartwells K12 says the USDA waivers issued during the pandemic that allow all students to enjoy school meals for free have further promoted this trend.
9. Noodle-based dishes
Noodles are one of the elevated comfort food options that Chartwells K12 believes will be popular with students. The food management company has recently introduced two new noodle-focused concepts to play up this trend.