With overtime, minimum wage and scheduling legislation tacking extra weight to some operations' bottom lines, tapping new revenue streams could help keep heads bobbing comfortably above water. Check out how three operations have diversified their customer bases.
1. A la carte and brown baggers
During morning passing periods at Durango School District in Durango, Colo., members of the foodservice team load up a cart and sell a la carte breakfast items, such as bagels, yogurt, fresh fruit and milk. Not only does the mobile venture capture twice as many free and reduced-price students at breakfast, but sales have also spiked in wealthier districts. “We’ve seen a huge increase in a la carte dollars at sites that are normally low because kids bring their lunch,” says Krista Garand, supervisor of student nutrition.
Checking out 100 students in the matter of a five-minute passing period is a process of trial and error, Gerand says. She plans to add another cashier to the concept, because teachers—who also partake in the breakfast cart—started noticing kids were late to class.
2. Cakes and seniors
At Cardinal Community School District in Eldon, Iowa, the nutrition team has built out a bakery business, which has helped the department reinstate a positive balance. Most residents have to travel 20 or 30 minutes to get to the next grocery story or bakery, and Food Service Director Heather Smith saw an opportunity to gather extra revenue without making a massive investment. “We are a school that is on a highway in the middle of corn fields, so it’s a lot more convenient for parents to order birthday cakes from us and it gives us a lot of control when it comes to allergies,” Smith says.
But parents aren’t Smith’s only customers. Anyone can order and buy the cakes online, and one their biggest clients is a senior living facility.
3. Pizza and community
Woodfire Pizza, a concept in Liberty University’s new student union, makes Northeast-style pizzas in a wood stone oven. The pizzas are one of the most popular items among students, but the pies have also gained a following among the Lynchburg, Va., community. Duane Davis, general manager for Sodexo at Liberty, says they were surprised when they started getting visits from residents buying whole pizzas for their families. Now, Liberty is known to have one of the best pizzas in town, says chef Michael Lowe.