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QSRs Serve Up Sales in Schools


QSRs Serve Up Sales in Schools

From pizza to burgers to drinks and snacks, most kids think Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) are the gold standard for food that is both tasty and fun. Taking a cue from these popular venues, several school districts have been inspired to make small to significant changes in their operations and have seen increased cafeteria participation. 

Downey Unified School District in California

2009-2010: Two high schools underwent full-scale remodels to reflect QSRs. Students helped pick themes, music videos, décor and more for the cafeterias. They now have booths and high tables, a counter area, and a food court with different options such as chicken, pizza, barbeques and a “fresh express” to replicate popular restaurants and malls that students already know and like. 

  • Participation increased by 35 percent: The district now serves about 15,500 lunches and 8,200 breakfasts per day. 

“The students love it. They come in and throw their backpacks down to save a spot because they want to be there. They want to stay. It’s where everyone wants to be. When students are a part of something, they are more apt to buy in to it.” - Nadine Silver, Operations Coordinator, Culver City Unified School District in Culver City, California 

2005: Remodeled its central kitchen and cafeteria serving the high school and middle school. They added “speed lines” for fast service and dedicated stations for Asian bowls and homemade pizza, two of the most popular items. 

More recently Julie Garcia, director of Food Service for the district, had an “aha” moment at Starbucks when purchasing a protein pack: “I thought that protein packs would be a great vegetarian option for kids, who like the packaging and the individual items. Some kids purchase one every single day.” 

  • The school’s protein packs consist of yogurt, fruit, string cheese, a muffin or graham cracker, and carrots in clear packaging. 

Use these tips to bring the QSR concepts to your K-12 cafeterias:

  • Suggest a “combo meal” deal that brings together several fun, tasty items that students enjoy. This can increase both sales and participation.
  • Suggest using signage, such as an illuminated menu board or fun pictures, to entice students to try something new or promote a “theme” day
  • Partner with a supplier rep to offer a culinary class to make something new and reminiscent of a QSR and then provide samples, asking students if they’d order it on a regular menu.
  • Suggest packaging for sandwiches, burritos or salads in an innovative way to reflect QSR packaging trends.
  • Suggest serve hot food in a Chinese food to-go container (whether it contains Chinese food or not). 

Article provided by General Mills Foodservice