A School Lunch Menu Where Students Have A Vote: Chartwells K12 Introduces New Student Choice Program in 150 School Cafeterias Across America

In the News

This fall, students across the country will make the lunch menu their own through the new “Student Choice” program launched by Chartwells K12, a foodservice partner that’s reimagining the school dining experience. Using new technology, Student Choice gives middle- and high-school students the opportunity to taste and vote on a variety of new restaurant-inspired stations that will be introduced in the cafeteria the following week. Chartwells K12 is rolling out Student Choice in 150 schools, including Ann Arbor Public Schools in Mich., Woodbridge Township School District in N.J., and Saddle Mountain Unified School District in Ariz.

“Kids today are smarter and savvier than ever about their food and we want to make sure the cafeteria is a place they want to be, not where they have to be,” said Belinda Oakley, CEO, Chartwells K12. “From the popular Sesame Ginger Udon Noodle Bowls to our award-winning Grilled Chicken Cobb Sandwich, Student Choice brings the latest food trends straight to students and lets them decide what’s on the menu. Giving students the power of choice in the cafeteria is another unique way we are changing the in-school dining experience.”

Chefs in schools from coast to coast are cooking recipes for students to sample from a variety of new food station options, including:

  • Bok ChoyAn exciting sensory experience of Asian flavors inspired by celebrity chef Jet Tila
  • BuildPizza by the slice or build your own with a variety of delicious, fresh and unique toppings
  • Create: BYO (build your own) lunch with rotating stations – sandwiches, pastas, burgers, and more – truly puts the concept of choice in students’ hands
  • Made to Melt: Comfort food combined with regionally influenced ingredients showcase “everything cheese” recipes
  • Roost: New twists on favorite chicken dishes, prepared in a variety of ways – roasted, baked, grilled, sautéed, and braised
  • Sono: Authentic Latin and Mexican cuisine that features fresh salsas, seasoned meats, grilled vegetables and spicy sauces

One of the featured recipes of the Made to Melt station is the award-winning Grilled Chicken Cobb Sandwich. This chef-developed recipe was named one of Food Management magazine’s Best Sandwiches in the 2018 Kids (K12) Category in September.

During the tasting events, professional chefs and registered dietitians from Chartwells K12 not only cook and serve the new menu items, but they share information about the station concepts and recipe ingredients.  Each school also has student ambassadors who help promote voting and encourage every student to ‘voice their choice’ on the new food to be served in the cafeteria each day.

“We know there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to in-school dining,” said Chef Peter Gilhooly, VP – Culinary, Chartwells K12. “That’s why we’re doing something different and working with students in each community to understand what foods and flavors have the greatest appeal and get them excited about what they eat when they’re at school.”

The Student Choice program was developed by Chartwells K12 and piloted in three schools earlier this year. The response was so overwhelmingly positive, Chartwells K12 took immediate steps to scale the program throughout its network of schools. With Student Choice and other innovative programs including Discovery Kitchen, school gardens, farm-to-school and dedicated crop, Imperfectly Delicious Produce, mobile ordering, and much more, Chartwells K12 and its partners are transforming the school dining experience and changing the way a generation thinks about food.

About Chartwells K12
Chartwells K12 provides dining programs for school districts across the country and prides itself on extending its dedication, knowledge, and enthusiasm into building custom programs that deliver each student delicious, great tasting meals. With more than 15,000 associates in 4,000 schools, ranging from large public institutions to small charter and private schools, Chartwells K12 is built on decades of food, education and operational experience driven by top culinary, nutrition, wellness, and sustainability talent. For more information, visit www.ChartwellsK12.com.

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