Equipped for success: How to tackle K-12’s toughest tests

Photograph: Atlas Metal

For K-12 operators, today’s foodservice landscape is an obstacle course, with new hurdles emerging every day. By taking a closer look at these challenges and developing potential solutions, operators can get the help they need. And most importantly, they can get back to doing what they love–serving and delighting their students.

Many of the industry’s current stressors stem from three core issues, the first of which is inflation. This specific headwind is so prevalent that, according to SNA’s 2023 School Nutrition Trends report, 99.8% of school meal program directors cite rising costs as their top challenge.1 Inflation appears to be affecting those on the other side of the counter, too—the same report found that over the course of one year, student participation in paid meals dropped by 13.2% for lunch and 23.1% for breakfast. Layer on the lingering equipment and parts shortages, noted as a hindrance by 48% of school meal program directors, and it’s clear that a little extra support would go a long way in any K-12 operation.

Finding answers

When seeking a helping hand, operators can start by analyzing the versatility of their equipment. Moving toward a multifunctional setup can reduce the impact of rising costs, strained resources and low participation.

One example is utilizing serving equipment that can operate as self-serve or staffed, making it easy to adapt based on labor fluctuations or daypart. This could even be part of a larger modular solution, which would feature various units that are designed to pivot based on traffic and ever-evolving menus.

Operators can also boost student participation by catering to the trend of upgraded meal experiences, especially in high schools, where offerings are starting to rival that of colleges and universities. Equipment that features streamlined functionality and higher-end finishes can help elevate the dining experience and get students excited about each meal. 

Trusting the right partner

Atlas Metal specializes in handcrafted serving lines and drop-ins that provide aesthetic appeal and decades of durability. In the company’s INFINITI FIT modular lineup, 16-gauge stainless steel tops, stainless steel frames, high-performance casters and spring-activated “locking horn” technology all contribute to a clean, striking visual appearance and tight, solid feel in any setup. Atlas Metal drop-in pans are also handcrafted with thick-gauge steel, maximum insulation and preinstalled gaskets for zero seepage and optimum temperature control.

Operators can mix and match modular units to create a serving system that fits perfectly in their footprint. If a fully custom job is the answer, Atlas Metal has the experience and hands-on knowledge to deliver a solution that is truly one of a kind.

Atlas Metal has been “Making Metal Personal” since 1948, never cutting corners and always doing right by its customers. For operators who value a hands-on approach to product quality and service, this family-owned, Miami-based company is the ideal partner.  To learn more, click here.

This post is sponsored by Atlas Metal