This post is sponsored by Dannon.
Keeping up with the quickly evolving landscape of school meals — from shrinking budgets to plate waste, equipment breakdowns to updated nutrition requirements – can be a challenge for school foodservice professionals. However, as the national account manager of schools for Dannon, which has been serving the needs of foodservice directors since 1998, and from my previous work training school nutrition directors, I’ve been able to dig deep to find innovative solutions for how we at Dannon can partner to help school foodservice professionals be successful in their school menu planning. With so much recent change in K-12 school nutrition requirements and menu items, we are making it a priority to collaborate and bring new solutions to the forefront.
For example, we saw an opportunity to expand the USDA commodity program to include fresh fluid milk, which could then convert to yogurt for schools. As part of our vision for Americans to enjoy the benefits of yogurt every day, Dannon took this idea to USDA, where it is currently being evaluated. If adopted, schools could purchase Dannon yogurt at an estimated 30-40% savings, helping deliver more of the nutrients students need in a great tasting food they already know and love. This has the potential to be a major win for school districts.
Here are four more ways that Dannon is working to bring creative solutions in partnership with schools:
1. Bundle options for reimbursable meals:
Bundling yogurt with fruit, vegetables and whole grains in pre-packaged meal and snack kits offers school foodservice directors a unique option for adding a federally reimbursable meal to a la carte offerings, while improving line speeds. Yogurt is an appealing and practical complement to encourage consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, particularly when combined in smoothies, parfaits and dips.
2. Sustainable packaging innovations for less waste:
Changes in product packaging can make a world of a difference to operators. With that in mind, Dannon Pro and Dannon Oikos Pro were developed to offer superior efficiency, optimal yield, greater sustainability and a simpler way for schools to bring yogurt to their operation. Both feature re-sealable, easy-pour caps, a durable bag design with 99% yield and a simple-to-use pouch, and are made with 61.5% less plastic and flexible packaging to reduce waste.1
Whether traditional or Greek style, yogurt is a nutritious substitute for higher fat and/or higher cost ingredients in many recipes. Yogurt can be substituted for sour cream, butter, heavy cream, vegetable oil, buttermilk, mayonnaise and more. When cooking with yogurt, you combine rich, tart taste with smooth, creamy texture, in addition to providing students with nutrients they need and often less fat than other ingredients.
4. Tested recipes that meet USDA standards:
Dannon provides school operators the tools for culinary success, with a full set of delicious, kid-friendly menu ideas, such as a honeyed banana and wafer yogurt cup, creamy hummus dip and berry delight parfaits. Each recipe is checked against USDA standards to ensure nutritional requirements are met.
Dannon is proud to be at the forefront of companies providing yogurt for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs as part of its mission to bring health through food to as many people as possible. I’m proud to be part of a team that continues to bring new ways to partner and provide solutions to schools, and I salute all school administrators and foodservice professionals for the work that they do.
Carolyn Gooch, national account manager for schools at The Dannon Company, has more than 30 years of experience working in school foodservice. She has worked extensively with USDA agencies in her career as a school foodservice professional. Dannon has made delicious, healthful, kid-friendly yogurt for U.S. schools since 1998, and is a leading provider of yogurt to schools nationwide. Learn more about Dannon Foodservice.
 Plastic weight of 37.92g for one bag vs.98.4g for 3 quarts, cups and lids for equivalence of 6 pounds of yogurt (1–(37.92/98.4) = 61.5.5% less plastic)
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