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School is in Session: CHD Expert Evaluates the USA's Multi-Billion-Dollar K-12 Foodservice Industry

With more than 109,800 K-12 schools in the country, and an average annual per student expenditure of $12,401* foodservice suppliers should consider how they can work with schools’ foodservice directors to help feed their local student bodies.

Chicago, IL, September 18, 2015 --( Waiting in the school cafeteria lunch line is a right of passage for most children in the USA. And while it may be trivial to students, the foodservice supply chain required to provide food to millions of students on a daily basis is an amazingly complex and sophisticated system. With the 2015 school year now in session, CHD Expert, the Chicago-based foodservice data and analytics firm, evaluates the foodservice landscape for public and private schools across the United States, providing insights into the Kindergarten to 12th grade (K-12) foodservice segment.

Foodservice industry suppliers interested in developing long-term business relationships with clients that buy in bulk should take a closer look at the education industry. Selling to public and private schools could prove to be a smart and profitable business decision. While some school districts might be facing the need to dial back their budgets, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011-12 public schools in the United States spent $12,401 per public school student enrolled in the fall including $443 per student for food services.

According to CHD FIND® (Foodservice Industry National Database) as of August 2015, there are more than 109,800 K-12 schools organized into more than 13,300 school districts in the United States. The primary school segment accounts for 83 percent of the K-12 market while secondary schools make up the remaining 17 percent. CHD Expert defines a primary school as an institution that teaches children from kindergarten to sixth grade, and secondary schools as institutions that teach children from seventh to twelfth grade.

In terms of ownership, 78 percent of primary schools are public or government-owned, 15 percent are private, and 7 percent are religious. The overwhelming majority of secondary schools (93 percent) are public.

Primary schools are the most prevalent type of school in the United States. There are more than 91,000 primary schools in the US, and approximately 18,400 secondary schools. More than 86,600 primary schools (96 percent) and over 12,300 secondary schools (68 percent) have enrollments of 1,000 or less students.

Public primary and secondary schools have significant market potential for foodservice providers looking to enter the education industry. Within CHD FIND® (Foodservice Industry National Database), users see how schools are connected on a school district level, making it easy to understand the total potential of a district. Furthermore CHD FIND® includes titles and contact information for people who make decisions like School Principals, Foodservice Directors, or District Superintendents.

Foodservice faculty members have certain criteria they use to select vendors, but they’re not the only ones. Foodservice suppliers and manufacturers have their own set of requirements for choosing the schools and school districts they want to target for sales. Strategies will be different for public vs. private schools, so understanding the connections between school districts and the current staffing leadership will be vital to setting up a long-term sales agreement.

One element for suppliers to consider when targeting schools is the number of students participating in the Free and Reduced Meal program. According to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, in the 2014 fiscal year, 30.4 million children received meals through the National School Lunch Program. More than 224 billion meals have been served to students since the program began.

There are more than 4,300 school districts in the United States with more than 500 students on the Free and Reduced Meal Program. Foodservice suppliers are better able to target their sales efforts and refine their marketing strategies when they have the “big picture” of the federal-assisted meal program for each school district. For a comparison of the number of schools by the number of Free and Reduced meals served, see Figure 2.

Suppliers looking for a high yield can further narrow their search by considering another key element; number of meals served per day. Approximately 42% of the school districts in the US serve more than 2,000 meals per day.

By breaking down the education foodservice landscape in this granular way, foodservice suppliers not only get a detailed look at the current education industry in the US, they are also better positioned to make smarter strategy decisions.

“Robust education foodservice data gives suppliers the opportunity to define their target audience and CHD Expert’s operator contact information offers a direct avenue to reach out and build relationships with these institutions,” notes Brad Bloom, VP of Sales and Marketing at CHD Expert, The Americas. “Choosing the right schools and school districts is essential for success within education foodservice. CHD Expert is proud to provide the thorough segment analysis that allows suppliers to target the right prospects and start meaningful conversations with education industry decision makers that control these multi-million dollar budgets.”

To obtain detailed information on foodservice in the education industry, please contact Brad Bloom:


About CHD Expert

CHD Expert is the worldwide leader in collecting, managing, and analyzing data for the Away-from-Home Global Foodservice Market. For more than 20 years CHD Expert has been dedicated to Foodservice channel members successfully providing a global vision and an in-depth understanding of the industry (in Europe, The Americas, and Asia Pacific).

Our objective is to support food service suppliers and their strategy, insight, sales, and marketing departments by providing the most comprehensive and accurate foodservice census; housing intelligence for more than 5 million operators worldwide.

For additional information, please visit or call 1-888-243-0154.
Contact Information
CHD Expert
Brandon Gerson
(702) 580 3493

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