As we saw in part 2 of The New Kids In Class, Generation Z are known as Digital Natives due to growing up and surrounding themselves with technology. This being the case, schools and cafeterias must rethink how they serve students. Consumers are increasingly moving online. With Amazon and Netflix, brick and mortar has been replaced with the digital marketplace. Schools have to decide if they’ll embrace the new landscape or go the way of Blockbuster.
I’ve mentioned it before in our podcast and blog, but it can’t be said enough: social media is a powerful – and free – tool to reach students. Anyone working in a school knows students are constantly checking their phones. What are they checking you ask? Surprise surprise, it’s Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. Rather than fight against the current, schools can capitalize on this medium as a way to communicate to students and parents.
Serving a lunch with beautiful and fresh fruits and veggies? Share a photo on Instagram. Need to share locations for your Summer Food Service Program? Post location information on Facebook. Be it weekly menus or special lunch events, social media should be a go-to tool for schools to advertise their lunch program. Because more and more Millennials are becoming parents to Generation Z students, social media is one of those rare locations where schools can reach both parents and students with a single message.
The Gen Z Cafeteria
In the age of Digital Natives, schools must create digital cafeterias. So then, what is a digital cafeteria? First, schools must make their cafeteria – from menus to ingredients – easily accessible online. Better yet, make it mobile friendly. One study by Ofcom’s Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report found 16 percent of individuals only use smartphones to go online. If trends continue, that number will only go up. WIRED prophesied the overtaking of smartphones in their article, In Less Than Two Years, A Smartphone Could Be Your Only Computer. From the article: “With each passing season, another wave of mobile devices is released that’s more capable and more powerful than the generation preceding it. We’re at the point where anyone armed with a current model smartphone or tablet is able to handle almost all of their at-home—and even at-work—tasks without needing anything else.” So what options do schools have available? Start with downloading cafeteria apps like SchoolCafé. By letting you post menus, show nutritional information, and even allow students to share their meals online, new apps like SchoolCafé bring the school cafeteria into the modern age.
Gen Z students want to interact instead of passively receive. Letting them rate or favorite menu items via their phone makes them active participants in your school nutrition program. If students can “plug in” to their cafeteria, check out upcoming menus, and see how other students are rating certain menu items, schools can boost participation in their nutrition programs. Keep in mind Millennial parents demand more access and convenience than previous generations. They’re more nutrition focused than ever before and many have their kids on specific diets. Letting parents have a convenient app to check ingredient lists and allergens convinces them that the cafeteria is a great place for their children to eat.
Speaking of Millennial parents, in the last installment of The New Kids in Class we’ll look into how Millennial parents differ from older generations when it comes to their kids and how this can affect school nutrition. Interested in learning more on SchoolCafé? Check the link below to learn more.