As part of its Dream Kitchen survey of school-aged students via the whyville.net online community, Y-Pulse LLC found that a surprising number of youngsters think that a state-of-the-art school foodservice operation would include robots and a virtual smorgasbord of automatic equipment.
“It’s kind of The Jetsons or Star Trek meets the lunch line,” says Sharon Olson, co-founder of Y-Pulse, which maintains offices in Chicago, Illinois, and Alexandria, Virginia. “Some responses along these lines are far-fetched to be implemented right now in school foodservice settings, but the answers are fun to read and show that students are technologically savvy and big thinkers about the role automation plays in their lives. Some suggestions for automation may even be do-able down the line.”
Examples of students’ thoughts on next-generation gadgetry include:
Tami Cline, co-founder of Y-Pulse and longtime foodservice industry consultant and former foodservice director, says students’ requests for automated features like beverage dispensers, ice cream machines and invention ideas like automatic pizza toppers are also linked to their interest in choice. “This is a generation that wants to be able to pick what they want and expect to do it with automatic equipment,” Cline says. “And while some of the ideas are more entertaining than realistic at this point, the answers give you a glimpse into the minds of tomorrow’s consumers, who will not only order from foodservice operators but some of whom will end up managing such operations.”
And, as Cline points out, from a practical standpoint, automatic equipment also can help ensure consistency and accuracy.
Y-Pulse LLC, which conducted the Dream Kitchen survey, is a research and consulting firm that specializes in helping companies in the food business better understand tomorrow’s tastemakers today. It is a certified Women’s Business Enterprise, with offices located in Chicago and Alexandria, Virginia. For more information on Y-Pulse, their services offered or upcoming studies, please [email protected], at 312.280.9061.
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