Healthy snacking key for K-12 segment

school kids eating
Photograph: Shutterstock

From Kellogg’s.

Snacking has evolved to take on increasing importance for today’s young consumers, who have come to view snacking as part of a healthy diet.

High consumption of snack foods sets Generation Z apart. In fact, they consume 53 times more snack foods per capita than older generations, according to a report in Food Industry Executive. This generation views snacks not only as between-meal fillers, but also as an important element of component-based meals when combined with other snacks and appetizers.

Focus on healthy snacking

Young consumers in particular expect the convenience of being able to snack anytime, anywhere without sacrificing quality and health attributes. In fact, 64% of Gen Z consumers say a halo of health is important in selecting snacks and meals, according to 2018 data from the Y-Pulse School Meal Innovation Lab.

In addition, nearly a third of consumers—30%—say snacking between meals is part of a healthy diet, according to Technomic’s 2018 Snacking Occasion report.

The report also found that 52% of consumers were seeking snacks that were high in protein, 48% want snacks that are energizing, 44% said they want snacks that are high in Vitamin C and 43% want snacks that are high in fiber.

All-day breakfast snacks

While the preference for healthy snacks is an over-arching theme for these consumers, they also want snacks and meals that are portable for on-the-go eating. The increasing popularity of all-day breakfast has also left consumers receptive to all-day breakfast snacks.

For children in the K-12 age group, their attitudes about food have largely been shaped by their Millennial and Gen X parents, who have embraced healthy eating. These young parents are often seeking foods for their kids that have clean labels free from artificial flavors and colors and high in healthy attributes such as whole grains and fiber. In fact, 44% of millennials say they would visit restaurants more if they had more refined kids menus; they are interested in and willing to pay more for dishes with ingredients described as fresh, real or made from scratch, according to Technomic’s 2018 Generational report. 

They also associate name brands with product quality. More than half of parents in the Gen X and millennial age groups cite quality as the top benefit of purchasing national brands, according to the 2018 Why Brands Matter report from Acosta.

Kellogg, for example, has reformulated its Pop-Tarts® Made with Whole Grain Frosted Strawberry and Pop-Tarts® Made with Whole Grain Frosted Cinnamon to satisfy the demands of today’s consumers. sThese products now include more whole grains per serving as well as colors and flavors from natural sources. They also are free from high-fructose corn syrup, which means that operators can rest assured that new-and-improved Pop Tarts will please both students and parents. These healthy and flavorful snacks also meet the USDA’s Smart Snack requirements for the nutritional content of food served in schools.

School foodservice operators are also working to improve transparency and boost parent engagement through initiatives such as hosting open houses, where parents can sample some school meals, ask questions or voice concerns. Many are also sharing menus on social media and encouraging parents to follow and engage with them on those platforms.

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
college students clean label

From Furmano’s.

As consumer preferences and definitions of what healthy eating means change, so do foodservice menus—and colleges are no exception. According to Technomic’s 2018 Healthy Eating report, 40% of consumers say their definitions of health have changed over the past two years, with some citing a shifting focus to eating a balanced diet rather than trying to eat sugar- or fat-free options. Some diners also say they are trying to be more aware of nutrients and vitamins, while others are looking for whole-grain and enriched options.

One of the biggest trends in...

Menu Development
Meal ingredients

Consumers are pretty well-educated about clean labels, gluten-free options and the value of vegetables in a healthy diet. That’s the baseline for operators in colleges and universities, as well as business and industry, healthcare and even senior living. But diners are continuing to evolve in their never-ending quests to eat healthier, with functional or “healing” foods gaining ground.

So finds Technomic’s recent Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report , which reveals that eaters are seeking foods that boost the immune system, increase energy, improve digestion and relieve stress. In...

Industry News & Opinion

Howard County Public School System in Ellicott City, Md., will be offering free lunch to students for two days during winter break, The Baltimore Sun reports.

This is the first time the district will be providing meals over winter break. The lunch will be served on Dec. 27 and 28 at two sites in the community.

About 22.2% of the district’s students are enrolled for free or reduced-price meals. The district served 66,276 meals last summer during its summer meal program .

Read the full story via .

Industry News & Opinion

Cranston School District in Cranston, R.I., has hired a collection agency to help reduce its lunch debt , NBC 10 reports.

The district’s chief operating officer sent a letter to parents saying that the district would be using a collection agency next year to collect outstanding lunch balances after other collection methods have failed. Parents who owe $20 or more and haven’t paid in the last 60 days will receive a letter from the agency starting Jan. 2, 2019.

Cranston accumulated $95,508 in unpaid lunch balances between Sept. 1, 2016 and June 30, 2018. The district’s meal...

FSD Resources