School Lunch Line Offer vs Serve

Have you heard this term, "Offer vs. Serve"?  It is used regularly in the school food industry. 
What is "Offer versus Serve"?

"Offer versus Serve" lets students turn down foods they do not plan to eat. This helps reduce waste by not making students take food that they don’t like or won’t eat. "Offer versus Serve" gives students flexibility. Meals still meet federal nutrition standards. Depending on how menus are planned in the school, a set number of food groups are offered. Students must select a certain number of food groups for a school meal. The number of food groups that are offered and the number the student can decline varies.

What are the benefits?
Reduces plate waste, thereby reducing disposal costs.
More students may purchase lunches resulting in increased revenue for the school.
Increases the consumption of fruits and vegetables because kids will only take what they will eat.
Fewer students may bring their lunch from home so there could be less packaging waste.

How does "Offer vs Serve" work?
School meals are priced as a unit.
The menu may have 5 items planned as part of the meal, but at least 3 items must be chosen in order to qualify as a school meal.
The student can take 3, 4 or all 5 items and be charged the same price.

Does your school lunch program operate this way and what do you think of it?



  1. I think It's a good system. School canteens in Malaysia, at least from the time I could remember, run like little foodcourts where the kids just pick what they want to eat but they weren't very healthy stuff though. Our government recently banned a few foods off the menu and that has been a good move - they also banned those little vendors outside schools selling candies and such. Interesting to know how things work on your side of the world! :D

  2. I agree! Luckily we don't have vendors outside school selling but lots of companies have food trucks that come by often for lunch.
    I'm told our school is really going to start to implement this offer vs serve. Education in the classroom will help beginning with young kindys.


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