Tried & True….

We are often asked about “buy in”.  How we build trust amongst our customers, how we build customer satisfaction,  how we keep them coming back.  One of the best ways we have found is to involve students in the process.   We test recipes, we gain feedback, we are always trying to change for the better.  

Today, Chef Sam worked on a recipe that we are trying out for the Kitchen Wisdom panel for the School Nutrition Association.  The recipe was for a Roast Beef & Onion Sandwich.  Roast beef, tomato, avocado, and a roasted onion & red pepper “relish”.  We opted to put the sandwich on a whole grain tortilla wrap, instead of a roll.  

These sandwiches combined some very popular flavors.  Freshly sliced roast beef, creamy avocado and the delicious onion & red pepper relish.  Needless to say they were a smash hit.  We packaged them together with a piece of fruit and/or some dried fruit trail mix, and a carton of milk for a quick grab & go reimbursable meal.    Our feedback on the recipe:  absolutely a winner, though we really like them better as a wrap vs. served on a roll, but that could be a local preference: our high school students are crazy about wraps.


The real deal here is this:  kids like to be treated like customers.  Not only that, but they like to have some input.  Yes, of course we have to follow guidelines, and we reinforce this to our customers, the students, all the time.    Beginning at the earliest grades, we are cooking with them in the classroom, involving them in school gardens, training them to use a salad bar appropriately.  As students get older, we include them in recipe taste testing.   Recipe naming is also a great idea to gain student acceptance and buy in.  Our district’s favorite baked beans are named Chef Sam’s Better Bacon Baked Beans, and several years ago, we named a sandwich a Panem Panini, to coincide with the opening of one of the Hunger Games movies.

Engaging and involving your customers is a win/win.  Students who are more involved and feel like “part” of the School Nutrition program will support the program with loyalty.  Participation goes up, students are eating healthy, nutritious meals.  This has been a tried and true formula in our district,  resulting in increased participation over the past 5 years.  It takes work and strategy, but it is well worth it in the end!


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