Most kids love deli sandwiches—especially when they can choose what goes into them. Today, the top-scoring ingredient for sandwiches is white-meat turkey, according to school fads around the country.
Some operators feel waiting for kids to make up their minds at build-your-own or make-it-to-order sandwich stations isn't cost-effective, but others claim it fuels overall participation and stokes the sandwich habit with middle and high-schoolers. It also generates a la carte sales of sides, they point out.
Talking turkey: Turkey is a favorite at The Hill School in Pottstown, PA—so is liverwurst—reports Mary Rader, the Wood Co.'s asst. fsd. Saturday buffets featuring build-your-own sandwiches for the 520 boarding school boys is a popular lunch-time treat.
"Kids can pick whatever and how much turkey, roast beef, liverwurst, ham, salami, bologna and two kinds of cheeses they want (even Dagwood-style). There's always American and one other—provolone, Swiss or muenster. An assortment of white, whole wheat, pumpernickle and kaiser rolls are also provided, along with lettuce and tomato, onions, hot peppers, sprouts and a large variety of salad bar selections.
"They often prefer the sandwich buffet to a regular sit-down meal," Rader says.
Twice-a-week tuna salad, egg salad and ham salad are offered as a change of pace, as is a 3-ft. ready-made deli hoagie.
"During the summer a girl's hockey camp uses the premises and they have the do-it-yourself (DIY) sandwich buffet daily. They consume big, hefty sandwiches like the boys do and make basically the same choices. We have a few vegetarians year-round and they usually make cheese sandwiches topped with vegetables from the salad bar."
Bagel Day: At the all-girls Greenwich Academy, Greenwich, CT—a FLIK Intl. account—fsd Mike Morgan features a Deli Bar every other Friday. Another big hit, especially with the younger girls is "Bagel Day," where they can put whatever they want on fresh-baked local bagels. School-made cream cheese vegetable spread, with diced carrots, celery, onion Italian parsley, is a favorite.
"They also like salmon spread made with nova lox and whipped cream cheese. Peanut butter on a bagel is also popular."
The girls pick out the bagel—either onion, poppy, sesame or plain—taking it to the salad bar to choose the toppings or spreads and alternatives that can be mixed or matched. They can make their own salads also or choose ready-made cole slaw, pasta or potato salad.
"The littlest kids are crazy about Bagel Day—it's a special treat that's menued about every 4-6 weeks. The older girls don't get that excited because they get bagels more frequently, and they enjoy the Deli Bar, which allows them a change of pace from the regularly scheduled hot entrees," he says.
"We roast our own turkey breast and roast beef and buy regular ham, bologna, salami, American cheese, provolone, Swiss and muenster. Also available is an assortment of breads, bagel, pitas and rolls plus a large selection of salad vegetables and toppings from the salad bar. Five salad dressings are always available—three are school-made and very popular: basil, raspberry or sesame vinaigrette. Breast of turkey is the first choice in cold cuts and multi-colored hot peppers are chosen as a topping with pizzaz."
Make mine to order: In the high schools of the East Ramapo Central School Dist. in Spring Valley, NY, there is a Deli Bar among other Food Court attractions. "Students may take six slices of anything they want (3 oz. total) or one No. 12 scoop of a protein salad, according to ARAMARK sr. fsd Susan Romanoff.
"Choices are made from all-turkey products: turkey roast, bologna, salami, ham, as well as roast beef, provolone and American cheese. Tuna is available daily, otherwise we change the salads (made with celery and mayo). They include: turkey, chicken, egg and sometimes seafood salad with crabmeat and surimi."
Students have a choice of breads, including fresh Italian heros, pitas, bagels, white, whole wheat, etc. Special dressings to give the sandwiches added zing and condiments, lettuce, tomato and onion are available on the salad bar. They may also choose from salads, such as cole slaw, school-made corn salad, pasta salad with vegetables or a vegetable, plus fruit and milk as part of their lunch.
"In the food courts, 6-slice deli combo sandwiches rate No. 1 above pizza, tacos and burgers. White meat turkey is the favorite, followed by salami and tuna, and 30% choose these sandwiches for $1.75. Junior high students make their own choices on a line, and their sandwich lunch rings up at $1.50," Romanoff says.
'Sub Day:' In the Westmont, IL Community Unit School Dist. No. 201 a special "Sub Day" is scheduled once-a-week. Students come through the line and can choose either rye swirl, kaiser roll or fresh, school-baked sub roll. Kids can also pick 1 oz. of cheese—either American or mozzarel-la," Coletta Hines Newell, the dist.'s fsd reports.
"'Sub Day' is very popular because kids like the ability to make their own choices. On other days deli sandwiches are premade. Turkey breast is their favorite meat and American cheese is the cheese they prefer. There are eight other regular lunch items menued that day and 25% take deli sandwiches when offered."
Sandwiches are priced $1.75 a la carte and with a bag of chips, (Newell offers 15 varieties of Frito Lay chips) plus fruit and milk, the complete lunch is $2.
In the works: Dixie Brown, fsd of the North Kansas City, MO schools is launching a "Build Your Own Veggie" hoagie this fall.
"We'll use sliced egg plant for a nice flavor and color, lettuce, sliced tomatoes, onions, maybe shredded carrots, zucchini and even some American or mozzarella cheese. Students would make their own choices later on, in some cases, after they've been introduced to them already-made.
"Children who are used to vegetarian meals might know better how to choose for themselves. We will encourage all to make choices once they're used to the sandwich."