A big challenge in today’s digital world:

Trying to compete with packed lunches and fast casual restaurants to keep students in school eating in your cafeteria food. While providing students with nutritious meals at an affordable price. Consider this: I recently read a story from Delish reporting that students at a high school in California had ordered lunch, using the food-delivery app DoorDash, to be delivered to them at their school. What’s happening here? Will this be a new trend — yet another competitor to the school cafeteria lunch? Possibly. The truth is that students (and their parents, too!) are like most of us. They lead busy lives, and they’ve come to expect a fast, convenient, and personalized digital experience in just about everything they do — including their dining experience. The good news is that you can create a dining experience that grabs the attention of students and parents and keeps them coming back for more.


Here are four tips to get you started:

Order meals from anywhere

  1. Make it convenient.

    Whether it’s a parent scrambling to pack a lunch for their child before dashing off to work, or a high schooler looking for the fastest way to grab food so they can spend more time visiting with friends over lunch, many people are looking for anything that will save time in their busy lives. Provide them with a time-saving digital experience: Offer the ability to view menus online, easily filter menu items for any food allergies or nutrition requirements, and order quickly via mobile device.

  1. Make it personal. 

    Custom mobile menusI sometimes call today’s students the “Chipotle Generation”. They’re used to dining experiences similar to that of the popular fast casual restaurant chain: food tailored to their specific requirements. Giving students the ability to choose from multiple menu items, ingredients, and toppings gives them the experience they’ve come to expect. Of course, customizing meals takes more time — not an ideal approach in a short lunch period. Offer students the option to order ahead via their mobile devices to give students the customized experience they expect without the hassle of long lines.
  2. Make it cool.

    These days, students are looking for experiences that are so cool, they just have to be shared on social media. Many of our school district clients at Nutrislice have started to offer up “Instagrammable” flavor combinations that grab students’ attention. One school, for example, tested “spaghetti tacos” — that’s right, spaghetti inside of a hard taco shell — as a menu item. It was so popular that the school added it to their regular menu cycle the next school year.
  3. Make it known.

    Technology array with menus displayed on each device.

    Offering convenience, customizable meals, and creative menu items won’t do any good if no one knows about them. Be sure to get the word out about your dining experience. A few ideas:

    • Place digital signage in key areas of your schools to promote upcoming menus, special meal offerings, and order-ahead convenience.

    • At open houses, promote your dining experience, and ask parents to sign up to receive menus via email.

    • Promote your digital menus and order-ahead options to parents and students via emails, newsletters, and other school publications.