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Trends for School Year 18-19

Engage your secondary level customers with these trends. Before we list them, it is important to understand Gen Z and their parents, which make up about 50% of the Millennial generation. When surveyed, Gen Z wants awesome food experiences, with taste ranking #1, followed by convenience. They also enjoy posting foods on social media and spend more on food than clothing.

So how does this translate to school foodservice?

Starting with an awesome food experience, here is the challenge: How on earth do you feed hundreds of students in 20 minutes and give them an awesome food experience?

Here are some ideas:

  1. Let them invent

  2. Mimic the competition

  3. Allow for creativity

I know, easier said than done!


What better way to get students to purchase from your program, than when they are the ones inventing it! You can embrace this concept with recipe contests, student panels, and taste tests. Create an “Iron Chef” cook-off and see what comes out of it! It is not only a lot of fun, but gives you the spotlight to showcase your program. The recipes can then be translated into grab-n-go concepts, giving that convenience factor.

Familiar Territory

Bring in familiar foods the competition (aka restaurants) serve that can easily be tweaked to meet USDA requirements. This generation thrives on new experiences and food is at the top; think multicultural. New cultures + new foods = curiously happy students. Just think about the latest restaurants that have opened in your area and see if you can mimic them for your lunch menus. Remember to survey your customers quarterly to see what their thoughts are.


This generation thrives on build-your-own concepts, also known as deconstructed menu concepts. It may seem daunting at first, but can easily be implemented into your everyday operation. Think build-your-own Mexican Food station. Two kinds of meats, three types of grains, veggies, and salsas. Students pick the combination they like, giving them the power to create. This can even be done as a breakfast item with build-your-own yogurt parfait bar or breakfast sandwich station. Lots of possibilities!

Take A Way

Whether you try one idea or all three, you will see results, as your meal participation will most likely increase! If you are unsure where to start, try the student council and see what ideas they have. Or see about putting a panel/committee of students together to hear their voices. From there, make a plan and implement it.

If you find yourself needing some assistance, reach out! We are always here to help!

My K12 Resource, LLC


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