In the final chapter of The New Kids In Class we’ll look at Millennial parents and how they raise Generation Z students. A whopping 80% of annual U.S. births come from Millennial parents and that number will only go up in the coming years. As no real surprise, Millennials differ drastically from Generation X or Baby Boomers and this carries over to the way they parent.
For starters, Millennials place a greater value on their children’s nutrition than previous generations. 88% of parents prioritize nutrition as the most important factor when deciding on their kids’ lunch. The generation that has caused the rise of Chipotle and Panera Bread is applying this same love for freshness and nutrition to their children’s meals.
A Barkley study, Millennials as New Parents, found 52% of millennial parents closely monitor their children’s diet. It’s not a large leap of faith to assume the generation that values locally farmed, organic, and healthy foods will want the same for their kids. If schools want to stay competitive and cater to more health conscious parents, they need to focus more heavily on fresh menus.
Farm To School Is In
A trend gaining popularity with cafeterias and students is farm to school programs. Using locally sourced produce, as opposed to national food manufacturers, farm to school stresses the importance of keeping food in the community. Millennials have shown they are willing to pay more and are loyal to brands that embrace this community attitude.
Schools should use farm to school programs to not only support their local community, but to say to Millennial parents, “We understand and share your values for nutritious food.”
It’s no surprise Millennials are constantly connected to technology, and that doesn’t change once they become parents. According to that same Barkley study, 35% of parents posted on Facebook within the last day. More than ever, parents are going to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to share recipes, review foods, and investigate the foods and companies that feed their kids.
Parents expect easy access to information that affects their kids – especially if it involves their health. What does this mean for schools? Cafeterias, and the meals they serve, must be transparent and easily accessible. Menus, ingredients, and even calories should only be an app away. Why? Because practically every restaurant and fast food chain provides that same service. Why would health conscious parents choose their school cafeteria if they know more about the meals being served at the local Panera?
School nutrition departments must embrace apps like SchoolCafé that allow parents to see cafeteria menus, check allergens, and know the caloric information of specific items. If not, kids will choose to go off campus for lunch or have their parents pack their meals instead.
To find out more on SchoolCafé, click here.
Millennials have grown up, moved out, and had kids of their own. Schools must cater to their interest – be it technological convenience or healthy alternatives – if they want to stay competitive in the lunch arena.