Talk is Cheap

Talk is Cheap

I recently visited a school district in the Central Florida area for a two-day working visit. Usually, I try to provide you with a little background information (a prologue of sorts) but I am going to give it to you “straight, no chaser”. From the time I stepped into their office, I could feel a distinctive level of professionalism and commitment to their department. Typically, school districts refer to themselves as “School Foodservice”. Not this district. They referred to themselves as “Dining Services”. I had to pinch myself (figuratively) because I have been trying to relay this message for quite some time now. Then…to top it off, they refer to their school cafeterias as “restaurants”. “Shut the front door!”

As a consultant, this makes my job easier because the district already understands the philosophy of marketing their program. I typically say café and stay away from the word “school cafeteria” because it puts programs into a box. There’s no question about it…schools can compete with many popular restaurant chains when it comes to quality and definitely nutrition. For that reason, I try to raise the bar. The idea is for operators to be on the offensive, rather than the defensive, when it comes to public perception. Let’s discuss the food served to student customers.

Let’s get back to my visit. On one of my stops, I visited a café, pardon me, I meant a “restaurant” for breakfast. My selection? A scone for breakfast with an assortment of fresh fruit. This was the best scone I ever had. No exaggeration! I asked if this item met the dietary guidelines and the district contact assured me that it did. Don’t take my word for it. I’m a middle-aged dude with middle-aged taste buds. The students raved about the product as I visited their tables gathering informal feedback.

Students gave the breakfast served a big thumbs up.

Next, we visited another school for lunch. At this “restaurant” the staff made buffalo chicken pizza on a superb pizza crust. To top it off they had Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper flakes as condiments for their guests!

Again…competing with the popular food joints. Besides all of the fresh fruit and veggies the students had to choose from, they got to wash their entrees down with Apple and Eve juice boxes. Quality and recognizable brands count. This district refused to serve their guests the tin foil topped or pouch juices. Only the best for their guests will do.

I can’t wait to fill you in on the marketing plans that they are rolling out in the fall. Their efforts will be the first (that I have ever seen) in our industry-on a global scale. It will be EPIC! Kudos to them…they are definitely trailblazers.


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