Does Technology Have a Seat in the School Cafeteria?
Technology has the power to transform everything we do, especially how we work and how we learn–and it can have a tremendous impact in the school cafeteria. Digital and technological solutions create benefits for communication, accessibility, and collaboration as never before.
Here are some digital tools that are safe, secure, easy-to-use, and currently available for transforming school cafeteria operations.
There’s an App for That – Students and parents can access mobile applications for their cafeteria menus, payments, and more. Apps can show upcoming menus, as well as nutritional content and the calories of available food choices. This way, students are empowered to make healthy choices, and parents know what their children are eating each day. Through cafeteria apps, students can also send feedback on the food offerings so staff can alter menus and recipes. Apps are the best way to engage students, inform parents, and staff can receive and implement valuable feedback.
Pay with AutoPay Services– Much like PayPal or other payment apps, parents can pre-load a debit account for school purchases, including lunches. Students no longer have to worry about keeping track of their lunch money, and parents don’t have to worry about making sure they have enough cash on hand to pay for their child’s lunch each day. Instead, the cost of the lunch is deducted from the account. When the account gets low, parents receive a notification to reload the account. Parents can reload from anywhere and at any time with Internet access, and schools benefit in a variety of ways, including safe and immediate electronic transfers of money, deposits, and transparent, up-to-date financial reporting.
Online Menu Plans for any Budget – Cafeteria-style meals and choices can fit the needs of children and schools. The recipes can be “Plant-Forward” recipes, “Farm-to-Cafeteria” recipes, “Allergy-Free” recipes, among many others. One of the best features for school nutritionists and administrators is that these recipes are scalable to the number of students they need to serve. They also provide cost-efficient planning and ways to purchase food with quick-turnover rates to minimize waste, especially among items with a limited shelf-life, such as fruits and vegetables.
It’s All in the Cloud – Anywhere, anytime on any device–all you need is Internet access. We have all become accustomed to receiving the information we need when we need it regardless of our location. Whether at a desk, on-the-go, or in the school cafeteria, students and staff can access the Cloud for all their dietary and information needs. District representatives can access the data they need to compare cafeterias from any location, including school visits, direct from a phone, tablet, or laptop. Cloud-based technology is safe and secure via encryption and password management technology.
Entire Cafeteria Management Systems – Every aspect of cafeteria management can benefit from integrated nutritional software solutions. Tracking, reporting, and the power of at-a-glance dashboards provide control to the entire process, and schools gain the immediate status of inventory, purchases, consumption, budget allocation, and more. Parents and students are informed. Schools are enabled to provide truly nutritious meals students want to eat and enjoy. School administrators and the school board become better stewards of budgetary accounts.
Through technology, schools can achieve their ultimate goal of feeding children nutritious, healthy meals. As with any technology, it’s one thing to know that these technological advancements in cafeteria management are available, but it’s another to know where to start–and how. Harris School Nutrition Solutions is the leader in nutrition-based digital tools and cafeteria management systems. At Harris School Nutrition Solutions, we use our 30 years of experience in working with schools and school districts across North America to bring the technological benefits available in the 21st century to school cafeterias.
Ready to learn more? Contact Harris School Nutrition Solutions to reap the benefits of cost-saving nutrition solutions made possible through accessible technology.