Although grab and go represents a relatively small part of Flik Independent School Dining’s business in private schools, a strong grab-and-go game is still “critical,” says Richard Brown, Flik district manager, who recommends “staying on trend, making food from scratch and not taking shortcuts” as starting points for great grab and go.
Why grab and go? Time is short in K-12
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Flik accounts use grab and go as a way to “provide additional variety and quick-serve items help us move the lines quicker,” Brown says. “Every day, our schools feed 400 to 1,000 kids in a small 20- to 30-minute window over different lunch periods. Oftentimes, offering more variety, we get slower lines. By offering grab-and-go items, students are able to spend less time waiting in lines and more time at the table, enjoying lunch with their friends.”
Plain ham & cheese put thru a panini press=grab-and-go gold
These crisp, hot ham panini are simple but craveable, and 125 of them sold out one day last week at a Flik-served school in New Jersey. “That day is a perfect example of what we do in our retail environment,” Brown says. “Our chef made three specialty entrees for that day’s menu: the ham and cheddar panini, stir-fry chicken bowls with whole-grain rice and a roast beef and provolone sandwich.”
Plant-based food, sustainable packaging
Most Flik kid-friendly grab-and-go items are a balance of familiar “kid food” faves and plant-based/healthy (sometimes stealth health if necessary) items like roasted cauliflower. The packaging is “very much client-driven,” Brown says. “For the most part, we always source packaging that can be composted and recycled, as 90 percent of our clients do both of these.”
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Emily York, MS, RD, foodservice director at Mount Vernon Township (Ill.) High School, says for grab and go to work, “you have to assess the population you’re serving,” she says. “What do they want, and how can you fulfill their needs? My high school kids want lots of choices, some simple and some more customized.”
Trendy pizza kit as a salad…to go!
Shown here is a recent grab-and-go signature salad served at Mount Vernon HS, a leafier take on the hugely popular pizza kits showing up all over K-12 this year.
Watermelon-feta salad at Vestavia Hills City Schools
Signature salads are made for grab and go, as they’re seen as premium and special, but can be made all at once (vs. customization or salad bar) and set out for pickup. At Vestavia Hills (Ala.) City Schools (VHCS), grab-and-go selections are organized into “days,” such as Panini Day and Feature Salad Day.
Wilted spinach-butternut squash salad
Also at Vestavia Hills, this sophisticated salad fits the tastes of the foodie student population. Other salads they’ve served include a marinated tomato salad with stuffed zucchini boats on the side (all in a clamshell); Parmesan-basil chicken salad with pita chips; and tortellini pasta salad with fresh veggies and vinaigrette.