11 Must-Have Hardware Items for Contact-Free School Nutrition
Here are 11 School Nutrition hardware items that will help school lunch programs protect against Covid-19. These tools make contactless serving possible, even in the classroom or in other non-traditional locations outside the school cafeteria.
Using scanners at checkout cuts down on the need to get close to student customers or to pass a la carte food items back and forth to ring them up. Specifically, look for hands-free and multi-directional scanners, as these will save time and help prevent the need to say, “It’s not registering, so I’ll just ring it up the old way.” That defeats the purpose of having scanners!
Barcode Card Printing
Along with the scanner, another important piece of functionality to have is the ability to print cards with barcodes on them from your POS, without extra equipment. This way, if a card gets lost, you can instantly print a new one rather than, again, having to resort to older, less socially distant methods.
All-in-One POS with Touchscreen
As for the POS itself, opt for an all-in-one POS screen. “All-in-one” means it’s a touchscreen, so it eliminates the need for a mouse or keyboard. Touching fewer items means there are fewer items that will need disinfected regularly, which saves time.
If the option is available when choosing a touchscreen POS, go for the waterproof option. A waterproof screen will help protect the hardware from the wear and tear of frequent cleaning and disinfecting.
Be sure to find out whether the touchscreen works with gloved-finger touches and styluses. This will prevent your cashiers from having to remove their gloves for each transaction, saving a lot of time and countless wasted gloves.
Regardless of whether your touchscreen can accommodate and recognize touches from a gloved hand, you should consider getting anti-microbial screen coverings. These may cut down on the number of times you’ll need to clean the screen, because even though gloves protect your hands, anything on the outside of the gloves will still be touching the screen itself.
Tablets for Non-Traditional Locations
If you’ll be serving in the classrooms, rather than in the cafeteria, you definitely will want to look into tablets since they’re easily portable.
In order to use the tablets effectively, you may need to consider a web-based or hosted system. This will allow you to work directly from the cloud on your tablet as you serve outside the cafeteria without having to re-enter data later.
Electronic Cash Drawer
Going back to the cafeteria, now is the time to update from a manual cash drawer to an electronic cash drawer. Electronic cash drawers are triggered by the POS. That means you will rarely need to touch the outside of the drawer itself. With fewer touch points, there will be fewer potentially infected surfaces.
For School Nutrition programs planning to serve in the cafeteria, setting up a temperature kiosk at the entrance to the cafeteria is a smart first-line of safety. These kiosks, often touch-free, can quickly scan students as they enter the area, helping to prevent possible spreading before it happens. While prices for kiosks vary, it’s safe to say they’ll be more expensive than, say, the anti-microbial coverings for your POS screen. However, keep in mind that this hardware is not only critical, but also can be used by the school at large. For example, the school can check students as they arrive in the morning. Considering the importance, versatility, and value of this larger piece of hardware, the cost becomes proportionate and easily justifiable to school board members.
As you’ve probably seen at many take-out restaurants and other service businesses, plexiglass sneeze guards are a great way to modify the physical space of your lunch line and checkout area. While you likely already have glass or plastic between the food and the line of students, adding a plexiglass shield at the end of the line, between the cashier and the students, will help block breath from reaching the other side as students and your team members interact and communicate. At first, many restaurants were creating improvised barriers. Now, though, you can find options built specifically for POS locations. These plexiglass structures are designed to accommodate your exact needs, as opposed to makeshift barriers that often fail to adequately protect workers and customers because they cause problems in the interactions (e.g. making it difficult to hear what someone is saying on the other side, or having to reach a hand around the barrier to exchange money).
Did you know:
Harris School Solutions (HSS) offers each of these School Nutrition hardware solutions?