5 Tips for School Nutrition Success During Summer Feeding and Beyond
With summer upon us, here are some steps to take right now so that you can be ready for summer feeding and head into the next school year primed for success.
It’s best to complete the yearly processes of preparing for summer feeding and making updates for the following school year before the end of the current calendar year. Specifically, if your district goes by fiscal year, the last day of the calendar is June 30.
It’s crucial to get this done sooner than later, especially if you need to promote and graduate patrons, as that can be a time-consuming task.
For users of eTrition — our industry-leading School Nutrition software for all of your program’s needs — you have the option to run automatic daily imports, so the process will be much easier and quicker. That said, you should still aim to get it done early instead of waiting until the last minute.
Update your household letter for free/reduced meals.
Now is the time to update your Letters to Households regarding not only summer feeding, but also applications for free/reduced meals. Even if there are no changes needed beyond updating dates, it’s important to look over the letter to be sure. You don’t want any last-minute confusion around the already cumbersome and complex process of managing free-/reduced-meal applications.
For users of our convenient EZMealApp tool — which makes the entire process fast, accurate, secure, and easy — updating the letter is as simple as editing your PDF and uploading it to the module.
If, on the other hand, you’re using a different software or you’re trying to process paper applications by hand, updating the letter may require more work, so you should make it a point to complete this step even sooner to give yourself more time to get it done.
Account for any changes at the school.
Summer is when districts make changes. For example, your district may be in the process of altering its physical space by adding or removing a building. In turn, your school may also be rearranging which grade levels attend which building.
Any changes that the school district makes need to be part of your considerations as a School Nutrition program, especially in terms of the software you use. You will need to make sure all new buildings are added to your software and that all grades are associated with the appropriate buildings.
Check and make these changes in your system at the start of the summer, if needed, for summer feeding, and then again toward the end of the summer ahead of the regular school year.
Ready your POS machines.
Prior to the first day of serving for the next school year, it’s a good idea to turn on all of your POS machines and log in to download the latest data. At Harris School Solutions, we typically recommend that our users turn on and test out their POS hardware and software at least 1-3 days before the first day of serving. This enables us to help clients resolve any minor issues, should any arise, and enables our clients to head into that first serving day with confidence, ready to go!
If your School Nutrition program uses software or hardware that regularly malfunctions or causes problems, however, you may want to test your POS hardware and software much sooner. If your provider’s Support team is slow in responding, you may want to begin testing immediately and continue testing throughout the summer.
Run a list of all patrons.
Lastly, it’s best practice to run a list of all patrons from the prior year for your records. This is a preventative measure but will be helpful down the road in any number of scenarios where you need this historical data. Harris School Solutions recommends running that list on the last day of your school year or fiscal year. Depending on your software, this shouldn’t take very long but could save you a lot of time down the road.
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