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Remote Learning Will Impact how Consumers of All Ages Use Foodservice

Going back to school used to be a pretty uniform process for students in grades K through 12. They would collect their school supplies and show up on day one ready for action. This year, thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, will be anything but normal for students, their teachers and their parents and guardians. And that extends beyond the classroom to include the way these groups use foodservice.

According to Datassential, roughly 37% of all U.S. households have school-aged children. Along those lines, 54% of consumers say their household will engage in full-time remote schooling this fall. In addition, 29% say their household will engage in a combination of in-person and remote learning, while 26% will engage in full-time in-person learning. This diverse approach will have a ripple effect throughout the foodservice industry.

Overall, though, don’t expect students’ lunches to change too much. Forty six percent of consumers say they plan to feed students the same foods normally packed for lunch, while 38% say they will feed their children a hot meal for lunch, per Datassential. And 16% of consumers say they will take advantage of school-subsidized meals, per Datassential.

“It’s not only about how you feed the kids but also about how adult consumption changes, too,” said Datassential’s Jack Li during a Sept. 3 webcast hosted by the Chicago-based market research firm.

Along those lines, 56% of adults surveyed say they will eat the same lunch as their school-aged children, per Datassential. And 20% of those consumers say they will use restaurants to fulfill the midday meal out of a need to balance work and other responsibilities while the children are home. “It essentially becomes a shared meal, regardless of what section of the business you are in,” Li said.

And because their children are learning from home instead of the classroom, parents’ needs continue to shift. For example, parents continue to seek more convenient meal options and must prep and plan more in advance, per Datassential. As a result, this has left a majority of parents feeling stressed out and getting burnt out on making meals every day, per Datassential.