During the COVID-19 pandemic, school cafeterias are continuing their operations and continuing to provide school lunches to students. To adjust to new local, state, federal, and CDC recommendations and guidelines, schools are now offering curbside services, just as the restaurants do, but with “grab-and-go” options. Some schools are even starting delivery services, much like Meals-on-Wheels.
These changes require cafeteria staff throughout districts to adjust nearly every part of how they provide school lunches, from food purchasing and meal planning to distribution–and everything in-between. Fortunately, school nutrition solutions exist that empower school districts to alter cafeteria operations, offer remote and online communication with students, parents, and staff, and, most importantly, allow schools to continue providing meals to students.
Several solutions exist that can enable a smooth transition and timely communication amid new ways of working and serving.
School Nutrition & Mealtime Apps – Students and parents can stay informed of daily or weekly meal offerings and menu plans via an app they can access on their smartphones. The app displays current menus and options, as well as the nutritional content of those meals. Through the app, students can send feedback regarding new meals and menu offerings, which can be instrumental in adjusting food purchasing and meal planning.
Online AutoPay Services– While cash transactions are being limited, parents can remotely pre-load an account online to pay for school lunches. When meal payments are managed through these accounts, lunch payments are automatically deducted, germ-ridden cash never exchanges hands, and parents receive helpful reminders and notifications when accounts get low.
Parents can load funds into the account securely; the same encrypted technology available in online banking or purchasing protects their information. Schools also benefit from immediate and secure electronic transfers of money, as well as deposits and up-to-date financial reporting.
All Children Can Receive a Meal - Every child needs and deserves access to nutritious, consistent meals. With the right school nutrition solutions, newly eligible parents and guardians can securely apply online for free or reduced-price meals. Applicants will receive notification online as soon as the application is approved so the child can receive his or her meal immediately.
Accessible in School and Remote – In the cloud, information and data can be accessed from any location where there is internet access, with a computer, laptop, tablet, or phone. The cloud enables everyone who needs access to information, documents, and data to stay informed and up-to-date.
Also, online cafeteria management systems track every aspect of management, including sanitization processes, operations, purchases, inventory, preparation, and more. It also gives cafeteria managers and administrators at-a-glance dashboards, so they stay informed of the entire adaptation of their school lunch programs.
It’s more important than ever that school administrators and staff can stay connected and in communication—and find solutions that work for new ways of working and serving meals. Most importantly, schools can achieve their ultimate goal of feeding children nutritious, healthy meals, even when the world is addressing and managing the COVID-19 pandemic. If you need assistance, guidance, or support in managing your school nutrition programs, contact Harris School Nutrition Solutions. Our entire team is standing by to assist you with whatever you need during this time.