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School Menu Strategy: Oatmeal? Nah. Apple Pie Oatmeal? Sure!

(Sept. 30)—Menu consultation shouldn't just happen for commercial restaurant customers. DSRs servicing the school market segment should make a habit of delivering good menu ideas targeted to those operators' unique needs, as well. Here's one covered in a recent issue of Vegetarian Journal. It's a simple, effective strategy that Bloomfield Central School District in upstate New York came up with to get kids to eat more oatmeal.

"The nutrition committee got involved, and suggested some changes to the oatmeal, including a change of name. The new oatmeal had chopped apples, cinnamon, a teaspoon of pure maple syrup per serving -- and a new name, apple pie oatmeal. It was kicked off with two dozen balloons, flashing pins for the staff serving the children, a volunteer at the beginning of the lunch line telling the children about the new apple pie oatmeal, and plain oatmeal to compare it to. The kids got a fancy pencil for trying both and telling the nutrition committee volunteers which one they liked most (and they could report if they didn't like it). Out of 50 students, four liked the plain better, and the rest really liked the apple pie oatmeal. The following week it was tried again, this time comparing peach pie oatmeal with apple pie oatmeal. The Mylar balloons were still flying from the week before, and this week crazy straws were handed out as a reward for trying the oatmeals. The result was 50/50 for apple versus peach, and now the school will alternate the flavors each week. The total cost of the promotion was $56, well worth it to get 50 children to try a healthy breakfast and to find out that they like it."

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