3 Considerations for Managing Free/Reduced School Meal Applications During the Pandemic
Here are some areas of your process to consider as you adjust the way you collect free-/reduced-meal applications for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.
Health Safety – Parents, Students, and Your Team
Consider allowing parents to submit application information digitally, whether that’s through email, a third-party survey system, or ideally an application management tool built specifically for free-/reduced-meal applications. This will protect parents, students, and especially your team (since they will be collecting all of the applications) from having to handle physical paper, which can transmit the virus.
Data Safety and Security
When you replace the physical paper process with a digital process, two new forms of safety come into play: the safety of your network and the security of students’ private information.
If you opt to leverage an email submission process, remember that emails, with or without attachments, and popular survey tools pose a variety of risks. While physical paper can expose people to real-world viruses, generic tools can open your network to attacks from virtual viruses and can create a risk of data exposure.
Be sure to consider the security of your new paperless process.
Once you’ve made changes to keep people and their data safe, the next step is to make it all convenient. Will you still need to process each application individually? If so, you may not be taking full advantage of the fact that your process has gone digital. After all, that’s one of the added benefits a digital process has compared to a paper-based process: the ability to leverage computer systems to do the heavy lifting.
Whatever your process, look for ways to make each step more convenient in order to gain a higher participation level and to maximize your employees’ time. Some helpful ideas could include:
- Automatic sorting/approval based on the applications’ answers
- Ability to easily import data into your primary School Nutrition software
- Automatic notifications/replies to parents