What Does the Government’s New Dietary Advice for Americans Mean for School Lunches?

Every five years, the U.S. government revises its dietary guidelines. Each update should reflect new developments in nutrition and science, and the guidelines are meant to help all Americans stay healthy – including schoolchildren.

The newest guidelines were released on January 7, 2016, and there are some notable differences from the old guidelines. The new guidelines place a limit on daily sugar intake – it should make up no more than 10 percent of daily calories. Currently, many Americans eat over 20 teaspoons of sugar in a day, which is almost twice what the new guidelines recommend for the average diet.

Because the guidelines tend to dictate what students are served at school, there will need to be some major changes – which could take years. Many schools have resisted the change toward healthier meals in the past, partly because of the cost, and partly because they say students won’t eat healthier foods.

Why School Foods Are So Sugary

There are several reasons why the limit on sugar intake will be such a big change for school meals.

Many schools serve overly processed meals, from sugary cereals and bars to pancake lunches with syrup. Not only are processed meals more affordable than fresh foods, but they tend to last longer in storage because they’re full of preservatives.

Kids like the taste of sugar – and they’re more likely to eat (and purchase) more food if it’s delicious, cheap, and doesn’t have the fiber to make them feel full.

When schools face tight budgets, it can be hard to make the change to foods that tend to have less added sugar, like foods based on whole grains, vegetables, and fruit.

How Can Schools Enact Change?

In order to have healthy kids – who tend to do better in school – schools will need to make a change. It’s okay to start small.

Nearly half of sugars in the American diet come from beverages, from soda to juice. Simply offering things like regular milk, 100% juice, or water instead of sugar filled drinks at school can cut a lot of sugar out of kids’ diets.

Prepackaged snacks or side dishes are another source of sugar, especially when they include sauces or dips. Offering whole fruits, like apples, bananas, pears, or oranges is a better option for kids.

Dairy can be another hidden source of sugar in school meals. Instead of flavored milk and sweetened yogurt, schools could limit students to regular milk and offer plain yogurt with fresh fruit.

Big Data is revolutionizing food service

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All businesses depend on interactions with their customers for long term success. From Facebook making decisions about what status updates users want to see to grocery stores understanding what to put on their end caps, Big Data drives their decisions. Instead of the typical data collection methods, where everything is plugged into a spreadsheet that limits how the information can be reviewed, Big Data offers a variety of ways to interrogate information and identify patterns.

Here are just three ways that the food service industry is using Big Data to revolutionize how business is run.

Test & Learn

Word of mouth is no way to run a business. Looking at receipts and asking managers which dishes were most popular is good anecdotal evidence, but to really be sure of whether or not a dish is cost effective, popular, and worth continuing to serve, many food service companies are turning to Big Data. QSR Magazine, in an article about Big Data, talks about how Subway has used one of its locations to test out new menu items and determine their potential success before developing and pushing them out to all restaurants.

Menu Analytics

Anyone who has worked in the restaurant business for any length of time knows that a menu is more than just a list of items that restaurant guests can purchase. Graphic design tricks as simple as putting a box around an item name, or adding the word “succulent” to a description of “fresh fish” can increase orders and change purchasing patterns. But to know if your menu changes have worked, you need to have a clear picture of how many items have been ordered with old and new menu designs.

Big Data can help you discover this information.

Customer Patterns

Training servers and operators to offer add-ons is standard business practice, but some customers express frustration at being asked. Is it possible to anticipate which customers will be interested in suggestions, and which will be put off, by the time of day that they’re eating, or the brand of credit card they carry? Big Data says yes. Big Data can help restaurant and food service managers determine what items will be most successful with certain types of customers at certain times of day.

For businesses within the food service industry, having access to Big Data can help them make their business more cost effective, more successful, and help it to produce less waste.

Tell us how your business already makes use of Big Data!

3 ways FoodCo Makes Running Your Kitchen a Thousand Times Easier

Restaurant owners understand the importance of special dishes that draw in customers. They don’t have to be fancy–some restaurants have drawn attention for doing very simple things exquisitely well–but they do have be delicious, and presented in a beautiful way.

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Two things that can seriously harm a restaurant business are running out of the necessary ingredients to make their signature dishes, and not having enough of a regular supply to create signature dishes in the first place. Software like FoodCo can help restaurant owners and managers perfect their ordering and inventory management.

Find out what the customer favorites really are

If you’re relying on the reports of chefs and servers, unfortunately, you won’t have an accurate picture of which dishes and drinks are truly selling out. With the slick and easy to learn FoodCo software, you’ll be able to accurately plan your menu, and track what’s making you money and what isn’t. You’ll be able to determine which of your recipes are the most cost effective with food and beverage cost control reports, and push them with specials and exciting events.

FoodCo also helps you by:

  • Calculating increases as you scale up. The art of creating that single serving; let the software do the hard work of figuring out how much more you need when you’re serving an entire dining room.
  • Engineering your next menu. Make it easier to compile the necessary information that keeps your menu up to date and fresh. You could do it by hand, but why in the world would you if you didn’t have to?

Make sure you never run out of key ingredients

Keeping a clean and well run kitchen is important for many reasons, and not the least of which is knowing exactly which ingredients you need to order, and which ones are in surplus. With the inventory control elements of FoodCo, you’ll always know exactly what is available, and when you need to reorder. You’ll avoid disappointing a diner who came in hoping for their favorite dish, and had to be told to choose something else. You’ll be able to plan for ingredients that are reaching the end of their shelf life with special sales or promotions.

FoodCo includes the ability to:

  • Maintain a comprehensive inventory database, so that you always know exactly what’s in your kitchen and bar.
  • Compare prices, to make sure that you’re always getting the best possible price from your vendors. The restaurant business lives and breathes tiny margins, and every cent counts.
  • Run your kitchen more smoothly because your vision will be complete.

Seamless integration with the software you already use

If FoodCo sounds like a great concept, but the headache of yet another system for your servers and kitchen staff to manage is just too much, keep reading. FoodCo integrates seamlessly with the software you already use, including:

  • Point-of-sale (POS)
  • Vendor and supplier systems
  • Accounts payable and receivable
  • PDA Hand-held devices

FoodCo isn’t here to make running your kitchen harder; it’s here to simplify the experience as much as possible.

When you’re planning out your restaurant, don’t forget the many benefits of FoodCo to keeping your kitchen operational without headaches. From food and beverage cost calculations to inventory reports to menu planning, FoodCo makes everything simple. Contact us today to find out what FoodCo can do for your business.

How FoodCo Can Change Your Cafeteria Meal Planning for the Better

From hospitals to schools to cafeterias, meal planning for a cafeteria kitchen is complicated and can be extremely frustrating. With FoodCo, top quality meal planning software for cafeterias, we’ve designed a product that will meet every challenge your busy kitchen can throw at it. We’ll help you reduce waste, save money, and scale your recipes to the perfect size.

FoodCo was developed by Food Service Solutions in 1981. This software focuses on back of house operations by assisting business owners, managers, employees, and operators. There are several features of FoodCo that can revolutionize how your cafeteria runs its meal planning.

Food Cost Accounting

Inventory and accounting are a headache for most businesses, but for food service companies, the headache can become a migraine. FoodCo makes managing your inventory as simple as possible by fully integrating with your preferred accounting software. Once you’ve set up the connections between the two programs, FoodCo will add stock replenishments to your inventory and make sure that it’s assigned a general ledger category. Not many meal planning  software for cafeteria programs can claim that. FoodCo reduces the time you spend duplicating information, and gives you more time to spend on the things that really matter.

Meal Planning

This is the cornerstone of what FoodCo can bring to your cafeteria. From tools to scale your recipe, recommend prices for items, and even recommend the necessary stock orders, FoodCo makes sure that you have what you need to make the number of meals you need.

FoodCo also excels in flexibility, letting you accomplish any number of tasks, from pairing different recipes in different ways to uploading menu templates to create a fresh new menu.

Finally, FoodCo has a huge number of reporting options to help you build your menus. The levels of data diversification are huge–as they need to be in an industry where items are ordered in liters and pounds, but used in teaspoons and cups.

Production Management

FoodCo does much more than calculate how to scale your recipe. The meal planning software for cafeterias also helps you track shrinkage, the enemy of every retail business. With a solid overview of every step of the process, you are in an ideal place to find out where changes need to be made, and discover how to implement them.

FoodCo also offers tools for sales reporting, allowing you to see how your delightfully and creatively prepared new dish is performing in the market.

Take all the guesswork out of your meal planning with FoodCo.

In more than 30 years of operation, FoodCo has amassed delighted testimonials in all corners of the institutional food industry.

When you choose FoodCo as the meal planning software for your cafeteria, you are also choosing the excellent customer service available for the company. FoodCo handles each account, no matter how big or small, on a case by case basis, helping you find the right solution for your business. With our experience in the industry, there’s no problem we can’t help you solve.

Since FoodCo was designed and created by professionals in the food service industry, this meal planning software is written in your language. Restaurant work is always difficult, especially in institutional settings, and we know that saving just a few cents per plate can be the difference between a business surviving and thriving. We want to help you thrive.

Get in touch with FoodCo today to find out what we can do to help your cafeteria succeed with our meal planning software!

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