Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Kids Vs. School Lunch Program

Menu magic it was not.  In a strong effort to serve food that is “better for you” (better for your Kids).  The Los Angeles Unified School District the second largest public school system in the United States developed and implemented a new school lunch menus that were much “healthier” than previous menus.

The menu even sounds good to me. The Los Angeles Times reported “menu items such as beef jambalaya, vegetable curry, pad Thai, lentil and brown rice cutlets and quinoa and black-eyed pea salads…” But when I thought about it many items do sound good but I don’t eat them very often and there is a reason.  Flavor familiarity-comfortably, portability and ability to customize. So why would students like them? 

Turns out they did not!  Students fled the lunch program so much so that “Dennis Barrett, LA's food services director, is doing a mid-year revision of the school lunch menu. Hamburgers and whole wheat, low-fat cheese pizza will be back on the daily menu after students indicated they would not eat vegetable curries, tamales and the like that were being substituted.” Here we are back with Foodservice Solutions® 5 P’s of food marketing: Product, Packaging, Placement, Portability and Price. 

Thousands of students have dropped out of LA’s lunch program. Barrett stated in the LA Times “that introduction of the healthy meals was "a disaster." School lunch enlistments fell by 13 percent. Students dropping school lunches were often seen packing in their own junk food and sodas.”

Better for you food in schools is very important.  Understanding how students eat is important when constructing a new menu.  Differentiation in food does not mean different it means familiar with a twist.  LA’s revised program is now on the right track. 

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