Schwan's Food Service, Inc., the largest provider of pizza to K-12 schools in the United States and one of the country's top five school foodservice companies, announced that it is introducing a new line of products that meet the stringent HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) guidelines, as well as the USDA's newly proposed school meal guidelines. To meet these guidelines, each serving of the new products must have less than 35 percent of total calories from fat, less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat, and 0 grams of trans fat. Entree items must have less than 600 milligrams of sodium and be at least 51 percent whole grain. More than 72 million school lunches are served every day in schools across the country. Schwan's Food Service provides products to approximately 72,000 of the more than 96,000 public and private schools in the U.S. "Our new pizza products set a new standard for school lunch pizza, confirming that all pizza is not created equal," said Jim Clough, president of Schwan's Food Service. "Great taste," he continued, "can be synonymous with great nutrition as we redefine school lunch pizza."
"A significant number of kids rely on school lunch programs every day and ensuring that they have access to nutritious food is important not only for their own well-being, but for the well-being of our nation," said Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, a member of the U.S. Agriculture Committee and a recognized proponent for healthier school meals.
The new products will represent more than 60 percent of Schwan's Food Service's total school sales by the fall of 2012, with key product introductions as early as this spring. Additional product launches are planned for later this year.
The company's goal is to support the diligent work of school foodservice directors across the country as they provide well balanced, great tasting, nutritious and consistent high quality options to students every day. In 2010, school foodservice operators purchased approximately $9.5 billion of food and beverage products.
"While our commitment to nutrition has been constant, we've redoubled our efforts this past year to develop an entirely new category of products," said Clough. But equally important is taste. Following product development, taste tests were conducted across the country with students, resulting in product adjustments that were met with nods of approval. "We took the time we needed to achieve a significant conversion to 51 percent whole grain, reduced sodium and reduced fat in products that students will choose in the lunchroom because they like them," said Clough. The company's new Tony's(R) Ultimate Cheese and Reduced Fat Pepperoni Flatbreads, for example, have a 51 percent whole grain crust, less than 600 milligrams of sodium, less than 30 percent of total calories from fat, less than 10 percent of total calories from saturated fat, 0 trans fat, 5 grams of fiber, 1/4 cup of vegetables, and 21 grams of protein for less than 400 calories per serving.
When offered with the recommended servings of fruit and low fat milk, the new school foodservice products, as well as the other reduced sodium and whole grain products produced by Schwan's Food Service, provide students the nutrition they need during the school day. In addition to its pizza offerings, nutrition-focused products such as whole grain chicken egg rolls and breadsticks, both lower in sodium and saturated fat, are available for schools.
Schwan's Food Service began feeding America's children 36 years ago, and more than ten years ago introduced its TONY'S(R) SMARTPIZZA(R) brand, a line of school pizzas which reduced total fat and sodium, setting a new nutritional benchmark for mainline school lunch. Since 2006, the company has worked to reduce sodium and saturated fats and increase whole grains.
Last year, the company committed to reducing the sodium content in its school pizza products by an additional 10 percent by the end of 2011, while doubling the number of its school pizza products with 51 percent whole grain crusts. Already, many of the school products meet the USDA's new sodium recommendations which, when finally approved, will provide companies until 2020 to meet guidelines.
"We are committed to moving our product portfolio to this healthier platform, providing students the energy they need to power through their academic days and after-school activities," said Michael Wiser, senior director, category marketing for Schwan's Food Service. "If you give students nutritional products that they don't like, they won't eat them; but if you give them great tasting products with high nutritional values, they'll eat better, learn better and perform better."
Schwan's Food Service, Inc., a subsidiary of The Schwan Food Company based in Marshall, Minn., offers value-added frozen foods to foodservice operators through more than 1,800 active distributors. Customers include chain restaurants, public and private schools, colleges and universities, healthcare facilities and convenience stores. The company markets major brands such as Tony's(R), Freschetta(R), and Big Daddy's(R) pizza, and Minh(R) Asian-style products. For more information, contact Schwan's Food Service at 1-877-302-7426 or visit www.schwansfoodservice.com.