chapter  1
The Privatization of Food Services in Schools: Undermining Children’s Health, Social Equity, and Democratic Education
Pages 30

Corporate presence in schools is growing from advertising in hallways, classrooms, buses, and rooftops, to writing curriculum. Labeled as “partnerships,” corporate “sponsors” are actively pursued by many school boards, parents, and students. One area where partnerships are growing is in school food services.3 Ten years ago, the school food service industry represented an estimated $4.8 billion market; in 1999, it was valued at $15 billion.4 Cafeterias are portrayed as “untapped” markets and “some of the best buys in new advertising media.”5 A candid comment from Blaine Hurst, president of Papa John’s Pizza, reinforces the notion that corporate sponsors have found their marketing Utopia when he stated that offering Papa John’s pizza in schools is, “more than a marketing tool…clearly,” he went on to say, “it’s an opportunity for product trial,”6

Today more than 20% of schools offer brand-name foods in their cafeterias.7 Major corporate players include: McDonald’s, Subway, Papa John’s Pizza, Dunkin’ Donuts, Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen, and Taco Bell. Four vendors in particular, Pizza Hut, Domino’s Pizza, Taco Bell, and Subway, are the most aggressive and collectively provide approximately 73% of the brand-name fast foods available in schools.8