Operations

Chartwells K12 turns to tech as it continues to manage rising costs

Chartwells K12 CEO Amy Shaffer says that the foodservice provider will be leaning into tech as it makes plans for the future.
lunch trays
The foodservice provider says it will be embracing tech as in continues to fight rising costs. | Photo: Shutterstock

Chartwells K12 CEO Amy Shaffer has had an eventful first year in her new role. Over the past 12 months, the foodservice provider has worked to get more local food into its meals, expanded its Global Eats Program and recently rolled out a new hot chocolate milk concept.

“I never received hugs and high fives in my previous roles,” says Shaffer about the response she’s received from students on the new offerings. “Students come up to me and rave about the quality of our menus.”

The road hasn’t been completely smooth, however. Like many other K-12 operators, Chartwells K12 has also been dealing with rising costs as it emerges from the pandemic, and Shaffer and her team are looking at ways to keep costs down while also keeping kids fed and happy.   

Embracing communication

Prior to her current role, Shaffer was the senior vice president of supply chain for Compass Group, Chartwells K12’s parent company.

Shaffer’s supply chain background has come in handy as the foodservice provider continues to manage inflation. Although it has eased since the pandemic, Shaffer says rising costs are the biggest challenge facing the K-12 foodservice space right now.

Chartwells K12 has been working to keep prices low by being in constant communication with its suppliers.

When costs for certain items have risen, manufacturers know to reach out to the foodservice provider, Shaffer says. Chartwells K-12 typically has enough time then to make the necessary changes on the menu, so prices don’t get out of hand.

“We have good advance warning [from suppliers],” she says. “We’ve been able to mitigate and minimize inflation pressures.”

Amy Shaffer

Amy Shaffer | Photo courtesy of Chartwells K12
Turning to tech

Going forward, Chartwells K12 will be examining ways it can minimize costs and set itself up for future success. One area of focus for the foodservice provider will be embracing new technology.

“We’re going to be leaning into tech,” says Shaffer.

Recently, Chartwells K12 has begun piloting Kids Pick a menu technology program that allows the foodservice provider to, “build menus that are nutritionally compliant and cost-effective,” says Shaffer.

The program also makes it easier for Chartwells to create menus that differ by region and students’ personal tastes.

Other future goals for the foodservice provider include continuing to expand educational opportunities for its employees.

“It’s an exciting time for Chartwells K12 and school nutrition as a whole,” says Shaffer.