Perception is Not Reality in School Foodservice!

Perception is Not Reality in School Foodservice!

“Organic” is a buzz word in households across the nation. If we are in tune with our parents and students, it shouldn’t be surprising that a “cross-over” in school foodservice has occurred.

I vividly recall one such instance when elementary parents contacted me about providing organic meal options for their school-aged children.

Immediately, price constraints were shared with parents and how those costs would affect them, however, they were adamant about schools having organic meals available for students. So, I did the one thing I always suggest, I ran a pilot.

The pilot was conducted in a high socio-economic school. The results, were shocking (only for the parents requesting organic options) to say the least.

The first week, parents supported the program by consistently purchasing the meals. At the beginning of the following week, sales decreased by 50%. By the end of that same week, a total decline of approximately 70% was noticed.

These findings prompted me to bring these parents back to the table (as a follow up) for discussions. It was revealed that the approx. $5-$7 cost of the organic meals were expensive-even for this population. Compare that organic meal cost to the average $2.00 elementary meal and you can quickly realize the hit to your budget. Then consider parents with several children and the costs become astronomical.

Add to the equation that these meals did not meet NSLP reimbursable meal standards. An example of the organic meal option was noodles, a protein and a few legumes as garnish. Many people have less than stellar opinions of school lunch however, the meals schools across the nation provide (at the price points we have to work with) are to be applauded, in most cases.


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