Operations

Smart solutions for challenges facing K-12 foodservice operators

Photograph: Shutterstock

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools have largely been closed for a few months now. But come fall, it’s likely that at least some districts will be reopening—so foodservice operators need to start planning now for the school year to come. With closures, however, operators are facing unique challenges this time around: smaller staff due to budget cuts or furloughs, fewer pantry items thanks to disruptions in the supply chain and availability and changes in serving format—for instance, buffet-style create-your-own dishes may be eliminated to boost safety and reduce the number of high-touch areas.

For operators, these challenges are significant, but not insurmountable. In fact, there’s one product that can help with all three of these issues: fresh-dried mashed potatoes from Idahoan Foods.

Reducing labor

With fewer staff on hand, finding ways to serve appealing, nutritious foods without stretching workers thin will be key. By using speed-scratch foods and ingredients, including mashed potatoes from Idahoan Foods, operators can churn out great-tasting meals without overwhelming workers. In fact, Idahoan products come together in just a few minutes and require only hot water to make delicious, comforting mashed potatoes.

Shelf stability

Supply chain issues, budget concerns and a reduction in meals served may mean schools are stocking fewer pantry items in their kitchens. Purchasing products that offer a longer shelf life means operators don’t have to worry about spoilage or waste and also ensure they’ll always have something at the ready to cook up at a moment’s notice. Idahoan products offer a great shelf life, making them an ideal solution for busy K-12 kitchens. What’s more, operators can purchase in bulk, which can help save money on food costs.

Versatility

Finally, changing up menus to boost safety is something operators will have to consider. Pasta bars or build-you-own burrito stations have previously been popular among student diners, but in a world where high-touch areas present a health risk, operators may be reconsidering that format. Offering customizable options is still possible, however—choices will just have to be made in line and served by workers. Mashed potatoes are a delicious option for “choose-your-own” style meals—operators can offer toppings such as bacon bits, broccoli, sour cream, cheddar cheese and even innovative, unexpected options like marinara or meat sauce for a unique twist on traditional mashed potatoes. Potatoes’ versatility means operators aren’t limited to just serving them as a plain side dish—they can be adapted into custom-topped sides as well as full entrees, depending on what the cafeteria needs at a given time.

To find out more about how Idahoan Mashed Potatoes can help with the challenges K-12 foodservice will be facing in the coming months, visit idahoanfoodservice.com/k12.

This post is sponsored by Idahoan Foods

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