Culinary Challenges in the K-12 Foodservice Industry

If you are a “food” person and enjoy cooking, have you ever considered pursuing a culinary career in K-12 schools? Over the years, foodservice operations in K-12 schools have changed dramatically. Even before the $4.5 billion “Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act” was announced, I already felt very impressed by the foodservice operations in Dallas and Austin school districts when I toured the managed services accounts there in 2007. Managing a K-12 account is challenging, demanding, and rewarding.

Foodservice managers in K-12 segment are required to follow applicable nutritional restrictions and provide healthy food with low fat, low sodium, and fresh ingredients. On top of that, cost control is extremely important. As suggested in this New York Times video, K-12 schools in New York City must serve a lunch under the cost of $2.67 (meal + labor). Managers are expected to design a non-repeatable menu with eye-appealing and tasty food because kids can also be very demanding.

If you are a hospitality student or professional with an F&B background, will you consider working in the K-12 segment? Why or why not? If you are a recruiter for a managed services company, what are the challenges do you experience when recruiting candidates for the K-12 segment? What are your strategies in attracting young talents?

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