Submitted by Doug Flanagan

Lunchtime at Washougal High School just got tastier thanks to Sodexo’s Taste4, a new meal concept that elevates school lunch for today’s sophisticated palates and revamps the classics, including salads and wraps, deli sandwiches, pasta, grilled favorites and pizza.

Washougal High School Pam Spangenbert presents Taste4 sandwich
Washougal High School Pam Spangenbert presents Taste4 sandwich. Photo courtesy: Rene Carroll

“Sodexo used extensive consumer insights on GenZ’s retail dining experiences and focus groups with students from across the country to create the Taste4 program,” said Mark Jasper, Washougal School District Nutrition Services Director.  “It was developed for students by students. Results showed that having fresh food, flavorful options, and spending time with friends in a fun environment are the most important elements to the school lunch experience.”

From its name to the sign imagery and the menus, teen consumers were engaged in every phase of development. Sodexo Chefs then created a USDA compliant menu that includes world flavors, spicy comfort foods and unique, fun food combinations.  Long cafeteria tables with attached bench seating have been replaced with round tables and separate chairs to help encourage socialization and conversation during school meals.

Taste4 keeps the needs and interest of student diners at its center with do-it-yourself stations, grab-n-go options and faster check-out lines leaving more time for socializing. “We focus on fresh, flavor, friend and fun,” said Jasper.  The new, innovative meal concept takes high school diners on a culinary journey where they have kicked-up, squeezable and shakable flavors and sauces inspired by Mexican, Asian, Mediterranean, American Regional and Heat spices from around the world.

Washougal High School Taste4 spicy asian chicken pizza
Spicy Asian chicken pizza. Photo courtesy: Rene Carroll

To introduce the new program, Sodexo and WHS planned several activities to introduce students to the new menu, including their grand opening on February 14 and Dollar Days, the week of February 18 where entrees were just one dollar.  The school hopes to break a record for lunches served on February 27.

Students are also encouraged to download Sodexo’s So Happy app.  It allows parents and students to see what’s on the menu at their school’s cafeteria, provides nutritional and allergen information and even allows users to track their steps.

According to Sodexo, Taste4 is the new standard in school dining, bringing a retail focus to school cafeterias where, through a world of flavor promotion and a selection of branded concepts, each day will bring a new experience to the customers they serve.

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