Pizza: How Vendors are Stepping Up

In the October 2015 issue of School Nutrition, writer Brent Frei in “Got Your Pizza the Pie?” looks at the history of pizza in the U.S., as well as current trends affecting all foodservice outlets. In the school nutrition, serving pizza requires industry partners to step up to meet regulations—and stepping up they are. 

Pizza isn’t necessarily difficult to make from scratch, but it’s definitely reliant on labor, time and special ovens. Few schools have such resources. The good news is that there are plenty of operators and manufacturers to help schools offer pizza that customers crave and that meet current nutrition guidelines.  

Through its A+ Pizza program, Pizza Hut, for example, delivers pizzas to schools freshly baked and hot from a local Pizza Hut restaurant. Pizzas feature 51% whole-wheat crust and “lite” cheese among four varieties, sausage, pepperoni, veggie and cheese. The product fits within NSLP and “Smart Snack Entrée” regulations.   

“Because Pizza Hut modified their product to meet the new federal guidelines, we were able to make it part of our reimbursable meals,” says Gail Shelton, foodservice director for Gatesville ISD in Texas. “With the new pizza’s lower grain-serving contribution, it’s available to younger students, and its 1/8-cup credit of tomato sauce helps us fulfill the red/orange requirement of the meal plan.”  

Indeed, nutrition managers have been tasked with a huge responsibility to increase the whole-grain intake of school children while still satisfying palates and keeping food waste to a minimum. Restaurant chains such as Pizza Hut and Dominos are a labor-free solution providing ready-to-eat pizza; what’s more, customers are familiar with and gravitate toward the major brands. 

Manufacturer support offers another pizza solution, from speed-scratch items to pizza delivery. 

Ardent Mills’ Ultragrain All-Purpose Flour Blend T-2, for instance, meets on-premise pizza-prep demands with little or no adjustments needed to recipes. Ultragrain is also available to schools in finished pizza through the Domino’s Smart Slice pizza line, which was created exclusively for schools and features 51% white whole-wheat dough, a lower-sodium sauce, lower-fat cheese, lower-fat pepperoni and endless topping options. Smart Slice pizzas are delivered to schools from a local Domino’s restaurant. 

Schwan’s Food Service, Inc., one of the nation’s largest suppliers of heat-and-serve foods to schools, offers its popular BIG DADDY'S brand of pizza varieties, such as Bold 51% Whole-Grain Rolled Edge Pizza round pies either whole or sliced in pork pepperoni and cheese varieties. Meanwhile, 51% Whole-Grain Sicilian Pizza is an un-scored 12-inch-by-16-inch sheet with a rolled-edge crust for cutting as desired to deliver a pizzeria look and feel. And, 51% Whole Grain Hand Tossed Pizza delivers pizzeria quality with a thinner crust, in whole cheese and pork pepperoni varieties plus pre-sliced cheese and pre-sliced turkey pepperoni (each offers eight slices) varieties.

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