Do some simple Marketing if your goal is to:

• Garner confidence and respect from stakeholders

• Positively promote your program and district

• Increase program participation

MARKETING is one of those words that can feel so nebulous. I use get overwhelmed at the thought of marketing, let alone doing it. But, it’s much more do-able than you think.

MARKETING is simply telling people about all the great things you are doing to improve the quality and nutrition of your school’s meal program. People love to hear about the great things you are doing to feed their kids. For instance, if you started making scratch meatballs this year, or you offer fresh, roasted vegetables three days a week at the high school, or that you served asparagus from the farm down the street yesterday, how else will they know unless you tell them?

Simply put, MARKETING is telling others about your food improvement efforts. School foodservice sometimes feels like a thankless job. It can feel even more thankless if you don’t give them something to thank you for! Are you doing good work that you’re proud of? Then simply tell others about it. Maybe this all sounds to boastful and it “just isn’t you” to brag about the good food you’re serving. So, blame the good work on your team! I know they may feign embarrassment but they will love it! The problem with not doing any positive MARKETING at all just means people will believe the same old negative things they’ve always thought about school food service. People who have never even set foot in your cafeteria will already “know” that your food is just like all the other food in schools. Go ahead and test me on this. Ask 10 people the first thing that comes to mind when they hear the words “school food”. On the other hand, maybe don’t ask… I hope you get my point. Tell them about the good stuff that you’re doing and it will feel fabulous. You may even change deep seated perceptions about school food!

Here are a few ways to MARKET your program:

  • Start a Facebook page for your program. It is fast and easy to do, and is a simple way to share tasty, positive tidbits about the great work you and your team are doing. Post pictures of that beautiful box of fresh, local peaches that are being served on the elementary salad bar today! Pictures of your colorful and well appointed fruit and veggie bar is alway a great thing to promote!
  • Instagram is another place to create a school food page.
  • Ask a team member who loves taking pictures to be your photographer. This is a great way to involve the team in your promo efforts!
  • Does your district have a newsletter? Ask to be included with a positive story about something you are doing in your program.
  • Create a “press release” and send it to your local newspaper. Don’t be intimidated by this. Local newspapers are always on the prowl for some positive, feel-good, local stories to print, especially if it has to do with kids in your local schools.
  • Leverage your network: If you have been part of the “real food in schools” movement for a while now, and are getting good at it, offering others a hand is a great way. Offer to give neighboring district directors, and their key players, a tour of your operation. Share your vision!
  • Host a food training event for other directors and their staff to learn from your experiences and help them get them excited about serving real food in their schools, too!
  • Answer their questions and share your resources and while you’re doing all that, shout your efforts and accomplishments from the roof-tops so evidence of your positive efforts can be added to the movement!

The Four Pillars of Success in School Food Service

Focus on Food and Success Will Follow

Whole Foods

Scratch Cooking

Farm to School


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