If you bag it, they will eat

Secondary packaging typically is associated with behind-the-scenes activity, but a Long Island company is demonstrating the effectiveness of secondary packaging in making school breakfasts more appealing to children.

food packaging inbody 2
Kid-friendly colors and a rotating lineup of text messages were developed by a children’s marketing agency to make Breakfast Breaks more appealing to school children. Source: ES Foods.

Woodbury, NY-based ES Foods is a school foodservice supplier, delivering preassembled meals for distribution to students who qualify for USDA’s school nutrition program. “The school breakfast program is tremendously underutilized,” notes Gary Davis, with fewer than half the eligible students participating. Logistics is part of the problem: Few cafeterias are large enough to accommodate all their students in a single seating. One solution is grab-and-go meals that can be eaten in the classroom. Firms like ES Foods assemble those meals and distribute them to schools throughout the continental US and Alaska.

To encourage more school involvement, Davis created the “got breakfast?” Foundation in 2005, with the blessings of the California Milk Processor Board, licensor of the “Got milk?” catch phrase. “They love us,” he says, as does the National Dairy Council, which supports any program that encourages more milk consumption by children. The efforts of hunger-relief non-profits—notably Share our Strength, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) and, to a lesser extent, the “got breakfast?” Foundation—have significantly expanded the number of children participating in the USDA program and, not coincidentally, grown the market for ES Foods’ preassembled meal bags. In 2005, when the foundation was established, about 6 million children received school breakfasts, Davis says. Last year, an average of 9.8 million was served each school day, a FRAC report indicates. (An estimated 20 million children are eligible for USDA’s program.)

Assembly of ES Foods’ breakfasts is outsourced to two copackers in New York and Chicago. Working with a machinery OEM—“don’t ask me which one,” Davis says preemptively—the firm developed automation equipment “that could give us the line speeds we need,” then located the machinery at copackers’ facilities. Some of the assembled meals include yogurt, but typically they consist of shelf-stable products, including a protein (usually cheese sticks), an ounce of grain (typically a single-serve cereal box), a second ounce of grain (muffin or snack bar) and a 100 percent-juice pouch. The assembled breakfast is supplemented onsite with a carton of milk.

Davis refutes the notion his Breakfast Breaks create waste. “Waste is greatly reduced,” he says, “and having the colorful package definitely supports consumption.” Labor accounts for half the average cost of $2.05 for a school cafeteria breakfast, he adds, and pre-assembled meals significantly reduce labor cost, enabling schools to serve more meals. ES Foods also has cut the amount of packaging materials it uses by more than half, switching from a paperboard box and juice boxes to flexible film and juice pouches. 

 For more information:

Gary Davis, ES Foods, 866-786-9028


Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

Recent Articles by Kevin Higgins, Senior Editor

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Food Engineering's Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo 2015

Images from Food Engineering's Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo in Clearwater Beach, Florida, April 12-15, 2015. The event brought food and beverage processors and suppliers together to gain valuable information on the latest trends and technologies in manufacturing, automation, sustainability and food safety.


Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

Food Engineering

Food Engineering May 2015 Cover

2015 May

The May 2015 issue of Food Engineering explores effective tools for hitting manufacturing targets. Also, read how processors are looking for faster ways to detect harmful pathogens in food and beverages without sacrificing accuracy or reliability.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Plant Facility/Site Issues

What issue about your current plant facility/site keeps you up the most at night?
View Results Poll Archive


Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.png linkedin_40px.pngGoogle +

Food Master

Food Engineering Food Master 2015Food Master 2015 is now available!

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit to learn more.