Heartland Payment Systems Inc. has landed another school-meals payment player, further boosting its market share in the educational foodservice arena.

After completing a binge of similar acquisitions last year, Heartland is back in the hunt for more, the firm said in a July 9 press release.

Princeton, N.J.-based Heartland's latest prize is LunchByte Systems Inc., which specializes in software applications to manage school food programs, including meal-planning and point-of-sale programs, Heartland said in the release.

Heartland in October 2011 acquired School-Link Technologies Inc., which was its fourth acquisition in the school-meals niche in the previous 10 months.

Payments systems for school-meals programs is an industry niche that is "growing faster than the rest of the marketplace overall," Todd Ablowitz, president of Centennial, Colo.-based Double Diamond Group LLC, said last year.

The new acquisition expands Heartland's reach by another 10,000 schools, bringing the total number of schools it serves to 29,000 from some 19,000 last fall, the firm said. Heartland now claims "a nearly 30% share" of the market for providing meals-related payments and software support to schools, according to the release.

Founded in 1989, Rochester, N.Y.-based LunchByte provides such services to schools as menu and inventory management as well as POS technology under its Nutrikids brand.

Heartland plans to "continue the strategic acquisition" of tech firms supporting school-meals payment and management, Michael A. Lawler, president of Heartland's strategic markets group, said in the release, noting that its expanding array of services are helping schools streamline foodservice operations.

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