K-12 School Foodservice Professionals gathered in San Antonio for the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) Annual National Conference (ANC). These experts honed in on topics surrounding new products, services and programs to gain further education on their school’s meal curriculum.
School Foodservice Directors from across the country discussed the challenges of how to deliver satisfying and culturally relevant meals to a diverse student body. A few suggestions included: featuring a food specific culture each week, engaging parents, providing lots of choices and sampling products.
New Child and Adult Care Food Program Meal Patterns
USDA recently revised the CACFP meal patterns to ensure children and adults have access to healthy, balanced meals throughout the day. Under the new child and adult meal patterns, meals served will include a greater variety of vegetables and fruit, more whole grains and less added sugar and saturated fat. *Source: USDA
Healthy with a Side of Cookies – great ways to deliver better tasting and nutritious food included: offering fruit/vegetable juices or cups that credit as half of a recommended serving, 100% frozen fruit in cups and delicious whole grain cookies, chips, cakes and pizza.
Focus on Flavor – replace salt and unhealthy fats with interesting flavors like herb blends, mustards, sriracha sauce, sriracha ketchup and flavorful dressings.
New Twists on the Classics – bite sized produce updates familiar items such as potato wedges with dipping sauces, packaged fruits and vegetables, individually packaged flavored raisins or cranberries and flavored popcorn.
Implications for Manufacturers
In a recent YPulse (ypulse.org) study, operators explained how industry can help increase participation:
Promotions Made Easy – supply cafeteria promotion materials, such as posters and static clings, for serving lines.
Digitally Accessible – provide electronic information that can be used on school district websites, menus or for social media. Sample public relations materials can be customized and sent to local media.
Training – hold in-service training of school nutrition staff.
Wise Words from Operators
In order to motivate and engage Gen Z consumers, experts discussed solutions which included blending food-cultures (i.e. Thanksgiving burrito or spaghetti tacos) and sending quick bites of information through social media, considering that is how Gen Z consumes information. School Foodservice Professionals stated that surveying and taste testing are the top two methods for deciding which new products make the menu. When informing individuals about new and healthy items, professionals found that inviting parents to lunch and having student ambassadors were also effective.
Taste Talk Tweet
#Farm-to-school is trending in local communities
#Photos dramatically increase engagement and popularity on social media postings
#Connect to Gen Z using new apps like Snapchat
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