Delivery Adds to the K-12 Food Experience

April 2018

Lunches and snacks in K-12 schools are changing as the number of dining options grows. Beyond what’s served in cafeterias and what parents send from home, there are now delivery services catering to students and teachers, introducing more choices than this segment has had before.

These programs were founded with the K-12 audience in mind. With permission from school officials, they deliver meals to schools before the start of the lunch period, fulfilling orders placed through websites and mobile apps.

Smart Lunches, for example, prepares healthy meals for 200-plus schools and child care centers in Boston, Chicago, Atlanta and more. It’s a time-saving solution for parents and school staff, who can go online to purchase any of the six main and five side dishes on the menu, which change from day to day. Smart Lunches shares a small percentage of profits with its partner schools and also donates to food banks in the communities it serves.

Another program, Wholesome Food Services, works with nearby restaurants in Denver, Dallas and beyond to offer meals for students. Parents handpick the selections, which rotate from one restaurant to another and are available to order as far as two months in advance. There is no charge for delivery, and parents can personalize the meal by including a message for their child.

Although these outside sources can present a challenge for K-12 foodservice directors looking to attract students and staff to their school dining services, they’re adjusting their offerings in response. According to Food Management, Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools foodservice department has given all teachers and staff members the opportunity to get takeout through the school system since the fall of 2016. They choose from five sandwiches and five salads, which are made in various production kitchens throughout the district, and receive same-day delivery with at least three hours’ notice.

Other school foodservice directors are working to raise the level of engagement with their dining program through digital menu boards and mobile apps for their cafeteria. These give students and employees a convenient way to find out their meal choices in advance, which is particularly useful for those with dietary restrictions.

Parents, students and staff understand the importance of options, particularly healthy ones. Butterball has a number of on-trend recipe ideas to bring variety to menus as well as products packed with protein without as much fat or as many calories as other meats.

Reach out to us on Facebook or LinkedIn to find out more, and visit our Resource Center to learn about other industry trends.


Heckscher, Melissa. 9 Awesome School Lunch Delivery Services, Red Tricycle, January 2018.

Buzalka, Mike. Delivery menu boosts district’s adult lunch sales, Food Management, February 2018.

Vinson, Stephen. Trending: Food Delivery To School Classrooms, PrimeroEdge, March 2018.

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