Operation Success: Oceanside Unified School District (Oceanside, California)
Teens have a lot of choices, not to mention some strong opinions, when it comes to what they want to eat and drink on a daily basis. This can make it particularly challenging when trying to keep older students excited about eating at school.
One way to perk up students’ interest in school meals is to offer items they enjoy off campus at their favorite coffee shops and restaurants.
At Oceanside Unified School District in Oceanside, Calif., high school students are jumping at the opportunity to choose a YoGo Cooler, along with a scone or other bakery item and some fruit as part of the daily reimbursable breakfast offerings.
YoGo Coolers, combining Yoplait ParfaitPro® yogurt, milk, sugar-free flavored syrup and instant decaf coffee, resemble iced coffees and other beverages that appeal to today’s teens. At Oceanside, popular flavors include Mocha Chocolate as well as a Peach Cooler with real fruit. Oceanside varies offerings to utilize commodity fruit when available such as strawberries, peaches and blueberries.
“Our students love the taste of the coolers and especially the idea of a coffee-like drink at school,” said Catherine Slomka, nutrition services manager at Oceanside Unified. “Now students don’t have to go to the corner coffee shop in the morning. Plus, this option provides a more nutritious alternative!”
The district first started serving the YoGo Coolers as a test at one of the district’s high schools where there is an onsite café. The drinks were so well received it has since rolled out the coolers to all of the district’s high schools with plans to offer them in middle schools as well.
The coffee shop-inspired drinks offer schools a new twist on a yogurt smoothie and credit as 1-cup fluid milk and 1 meat alternate in school breakfast and lunch programs.
Oceanside serves the YoGo Coolers in clear plastic cups, which makes the drinks visually appealing to students. Catherine says, “we know that food acceptance begins with the eye so it’s important to make sure our offerings not only taste good, but look good too!” The coolers are also a hit among nutrition services staff.
“Breakfast is always tricky because time is very limited both for staff and students rushing to class,” said Catherine. She went on to share that General Mills worked with her team to streamline preparation for the district and provided helpful resources to make production seamless.
Emily Miramontes, the account executive for General Mills Foodservice that serves Southern California, helped to source customized buckets with spigots so staff can combine the ingredients in buckets with immersion blenders and then portion the drinks into the cups.
“Every school has different needs and different equipment to work with. The buckets are just one of the tools we provide school districts, along with fun recipes, to offer YoGo Coolers on their menus,” said Emily. “It has been a joy to work with the staff at Oceanside Unified as they are always willing to try new ideas.”
To see more of the creative and innovative menu offerings at Oceanside Unified, check out foodservice staff’s Instagram page @ousdfreshchoice.
For more information on YoGo Coolers, contact your K-12 sales representative or click here.