Originally Published by Sodexo.
Sodexo, a food services and facilities management company that provides student nutrition to nearly 400 school districts throughout the U.S., has launched Taste4, a new meal concept that revamps the classics – salads and wraps, deli sandwiches, pasta, grilled favorites, pizza and elevates school lunch for today’s sophisticated palates.
Using extensive consumer insights on GenZ’s retail dining experiences and focus groups with students from across the country, Taste4 was developed for students by students. Results showed that having fresh food, flavorful options, and spending time with friends in a fun environment are the most important elements to the school lunch experience. From its name to the imagery and the menus, teen consumers were engaged in every phase of development. Sodexo Chefs then created a USDA compliant menu that includes world flavors, spicy comfort foods and unique, fun food combinations.
Taste4 keeps the needs and interest of student diners at its center with do-it-yourself stations, grab-n-go options and faster check-out lines leaving more time for socializing. With a focus on FRESH, FLAVOR, FRIENDS, and FUN, this highly innovative meal concept takes high school diners on a culinary journey where they have kicked-up, squeezable and shakable flavors and sauces inspired by Mexican, Asian, Mediterranean, American Regional and Heat spices from around the world.
“Taste4 is the new standard in school dining, bringing a retail focus to school cafeterias where, through a world of flavor promotion and a selection of branded concepts, each day will bring a new experience to the customers we serve,” said Richard Hill, vice president of marketing, Sodexo Schools, North America.
To date, Taste4 pilot schools have increased the number of lunch meals sold while overcoming challenges of decreased enrollment and staffing shortages. In the program launch at Putnam City North High School in Oklahoma City, Ok, an additional 570 students ate lunch each month, enjoying the variety and flavors of Taste4.
“I enjoy watching students meander around the cafeteria trying to decide what to order for lunch, because they have so many choices and I see less students bringing their own lunches from home. It’s all about the retail appeal and custom sauces that make it more like a food establishment instead of a school cafeteria,” explained Dr. Brian Chastain, Principal, Putnam City North High School.
Taste4 includes an Adventure station that features a weekly rotation of 12 branded concepts to provide a street, retail experience. Student diners will experience something new every week for 3 months as they are treated to brands including Beale Street BBQ, Overslept, Sub Culture, Country Comfort, TaterTemptations, Chopsticks, Glorious Grilled Cheese, Canal Street Mac Attack, Fiesta, Strutters, Sunset Strips and Favorites. Artwork reflecting the diversity of the flavors and freshness of the food helps tell the culinary story of each meal. Branding is customized by school to celebrate school spirit.
“For many of our students at East Aurora High School in East Aurora, Il., their breakfast and lunch are the two constant meals they can count on in their day,” said Principal Marina Kosak. “Sodexo provides a welcoming environment for our students while also offering a nutritional, well prepared meal. This program allows for our students to have more variety than is customary at other high schools.”
Seen as the next generation in high school dining, Taste4 rolls out in multiple schools this Summer for implementation in the 2018-2019 school year.