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Cash sales in the K-12 market have taken a hit recently as many of its most profitable traditional offerings have been forced off the serving line because of newly introduced wellness policies. As a result, schools have struggled to maintain a la carte revenue streams in the face of competition from offsite stores and in-house competitive sales by clubs and school organizations.

Chagrin Falls (OH) Schools, with a fairly affluent student population (under one percent free/reduced) drawn to a la carte sales, seems to be ground zero in this battle, and Chagrin Falls Foodservice Director Maureen Faron is using pricing as well as out-of-the-box product selection to make the sale.

“With a la carte pricing, we try to meld wellness with reasonable cost,” says Faron. “It starts at 75 cents and goes to $1.75 for specialty beverages. We want to maintain a reasonable price base so they will choose wellness.” Faron says she’s also found that premium products—even those that seem more “adult” directed—attract teens.

“People shy away from higher priced branded products because they are afraid they are going to overprice their program or that the kids won’t buy enough and they will end up taking a fiscal loss. I found the exact opposite. I think kids will make the right choices given the chance, as long as you price fairly.”

She takes advantage of free merchandising materials to enhance the eye appeal of the displays and justify prices. “If it’s promoted in an attractive, exciting way with racks and materials often available free from brokers and manufacturers, it will draw them. In a grocery store, if you see something on an endcap, you’re more apt to try it than if it is in the back. It’s the same here.”

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