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“From its flavor to its format to its function, middle schoolers understand food more now than ever before,” says Sodexo’s schools chief Stephen Dunmore.

Sodexo unveils new middle school-focused foodiE Café

New concept is tailored engage and nourish the tween-age audience. Plus, an exclusive sneak peek at what’s on this modern menu for middle schoolers.

Recognizing the benefits of tailoring the daily school lunch experience to every age group of K-12, Sodexo is launching a new concept just for the “tweens” or middle schoolers. The new foodiE Café focuses on trending flavor profiles, convenient meals, sustainable alternatives and healthy options.

This age group in particular “understands food more now than ever before…foodiE Café helps middle schoolers explore global flavors, understand local products and enjoy all of their favorites while embracing health and wellness,” says Sodexo’s CEO of Schools, North America Stephen Dunmore.

“Foundational research was key in developing foodiE Café,” adds Michael Morris, senior manager Culinary Offer Implementation for Sodexo. “The research tells us that Gen Z is the most diverse generation in U.S. history, with more than 50% of tweens being ethnically diverse. Additionally, insights tell us there is growing need for vegetarian and plant-based foods. Knowing this, we put our top culinary and dietetic resources to work while developing this concept.”


While it’s designed for kids, school staffers and parents’ perceptions of school food were taken into account during the planning of Sodexo’s new foodiE Café, where wellness, flavor and convenience are tops.

Built on three pillars of awesome school lunch—enjoyment, engagement and exploration—foodiE Café aims to redesign what middle school lunch looks, feels and tastes like. The research process was key,  

Integrated technology plays a role here: Students can preorder using Sodexo’s SoHappy app; they can see what’s happening more on social media and other online resources, creating more engagement in a way that middle schoolers are feeling increasingly comfortable with.

So, what’s on the menu for middle schoolers? Here’s a sneak peek of a few lunch combos from foodiE Café: Burrito bowls with stewed black beans and chili roasted sweet potatoes, Mexican zucchini, broccoli-lime salad and corn elotes; teriyaki chicken noodle bowl with ginger-carrot salad and soy roasted potatoes; meatball marinara bowl with broccoli and red peppers; herb-roasted chicken bowl with Italian seasoned chickpeas; Greek falafel bowl with summer squash… overall the debut menu looks to be set to a pattern: trendy food item plus fresh veggies that are highlighted on the menu. Fridays are reserved as “Local Favorites Menu Day,” in which students are instructed to “visit the cafeteria and check it out!”


Sodexo found through research in public schools that parents of middle schoolers think health and wellness should be the main focus of school lunch.

Less adventurous kids need not worry with this menu; it’s not all on-trend bowls. They can find crispy chicken sandwiches, grilled cheese, pepperoni pizza, nachos and chicken nugget baskets at foodiE Café as well.

And since middle schoolers perennially love to dip, a “sauce it up” portion of the menu features trendy and fun sauces such as Music City sauce (Nashville hot sauce), spicy-cool sauce (Sriracha mayo), special K sauce (ketchup with a kick) and MK special sauce (mayo and ketchup).

Continuing with the wellness focus, foodiE Café’s menu features a selection of super foods, including smoothie bowls, quinoa bowls and vegetarian flatbreads. A plant-based “boost” option allows students to power up lunch choices with added side salads and veggie sides, like steamed edamame and ginger-carrot salad.

Contact Tara at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter @Tara_Fitzie

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