K-12 Census: Making the effort

As the battle over menu regulations wages on, schools continue to combat increased costs and food waste.

Midday doldrums

All of the school foodservice operators in our survey offer lunch, serving double the number of midday meals compared to breakfast. So it’s no small thing that nearly 43 percent have taken a hit to their participation rates at lunch compared to 27 percent at breakfast. And competitive food rules continue to hurt schools’ bottom lines.

10,194 Average number of lunch meals served daily.

56% Average daily participation rate for lunch.

$1.80 Median food cost per meal at lunch.

85% Offer the option for students to purchase nonreimbursable food items, snacks and/or beverages (for example, a la carte,
vending, school store, etc.).


Has your lunch participation this school year increased, decreased or remained the same?

District size (students) Decreased Increased Remained the same
Less than 2,000 41% 19% 40%
2,000 to 4,999 49% 16% 34%
5,000 to 9,999 22% 17% 61%
10,000 to 69,999 42% 21% 37%
70,000 or more 50% 17% 33%

Percentages may add up to more than 100 due to rounding.


Since implementing the new competitive food regulations (aka “Smart Snacks”), has your revenue of food sales increased, decreased or remained the same?

71% Decreased

18% Remained the same

11% Increased

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