As coronavirus cases spiked earlier this summer, Nicolas Sayegh, managing director of International Delights, wondered whether students would be returning to universities and other schools the sweet goods bakery serves.
“We still don’t know how many colleges will remain using online learning or will reopen this September,” he explained.
In local elementary and high school districts, it certainly looks like the brown bag — or more modern forms of the old-fashioned lunchbox — is returning by necessity, noted Jack Anderson, president and chief executive officer, JSB Industries.
The Chelsea, Mass.-based company, also known as Muffin Town, turns out a bounty of baked foods and its signature SunWise sunflower butter and jelly sandwiches for school districts nationally. Previously, the bakery shipped a lion’s share of its items in bulk, but now everything is individually wrapped, and the school meal business, which normally slows in summer, remains brisk.
“Schools are doing an awful lot of summer and drive-by feeding,” Mr. Anderson said. “When students go back to school in September, however, some cafeterias aren’t going to open at all, probably for another year or two. We’re drifting into classroom feeding. We’re working with a lot of purveyors who are providing the whole meal in schools.”
Without traditional school cafeterias, dietitians and cooks, Muffin Town is creating breakfast and lunch kits with three or four individually-wrapped, school nutrition-approved products. Right now, the labor-intensive process is still ramping up, but with investments in new equipment, the bakery hopes to streamline the concept and ratchet up production by the beginning of the school year.