SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.  – With meat and dairy alternatives rising in popularity, Southwest Foodservice Excellence (SFE), a national foodservice management company that specializes in K-12 nutrition, has collaborated with the Humane Society of the United States to bring plant-based options to the forefront of school meals. The HSUS is leading a virtual plant-based culinary workshop for SFE chefs, dietitians and general managers that will cover the value, demand, and techniques to successfully execute plant-based entrée offerings to students.

“As innovators in the K-12 nutrition space, we recognize that the need for plant-based menus has never been more important for students and staff,” says Chef Monty Staggs, CEO of SFE. “The opportunity to work alongside the HSUS in this national effort aligns with our company wide initiatives to produce meals rich in flavor and nutrients responsibly.”

SFE currently has 26-30% of its menu items as plant-based options. SFE has set a goal of increasing the amount of innovative, healthy student-approved plant-based entrée offerings by 10% by the end of 2024.

Lauren Pitts, RD and food service innovation manager for the HSUS said, “SFE is leading the way on offering plant-based options to support K-12 food and nutrition. With a robust target to reach 36-40% plant-based options by the end of 2024, we are delighted to work with them to help reach their goals. Students’ nutrition is so important, which is why SFE is focused on featuring delicious menu items crafted by the chefs at the HSUS.”

The workshop will facilitate important discussions on the nutritional benefits of plant-based entrees and collaboration between the SFE chefs, dietitians, and general managers on new menu possibilities. SFE chefs will then pilot at least 2 new plant-based recipes a week at their schools, replacing meat-based dishes with plant-based options over the course of six weeks.

“Our teams want to create those moments where students feel supported in going outside their comfort zone, trying something new and discovering their new favorite food at school. This is going to have an incredible impact in our cafeterias,” added Staggs.

SFE previously received an “A” rating from the Humane Society of the United States in their Foodservice Industry Protein and Sustainability Scorecard and will receive high marks this year when the scorecard is published in 2023.

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