K-12 District Saves Time and Money with Free & Reduced Management Software

Case Study Ohio K-12 District Saves Time and Money with Free and Reduced Management Software Children in cafeteria at Westerville City Schools

Westerville City School District (WCSD) is one of distinction in the state of Ohio; it is the 12th largest district in the state, educating 15,500 K-12 students across 22 schools.

WCSD also has a mountain of accolades and a reputation for excellence. The district has a long history of being identified as a high-performing school district by the Ohio Department of Education.  

Even Newsweek Magazine identified all three district high schools as among the best in the country. The performance of their students shows just how hard they work to cultivate a culture of excellence. 

According to the WCSD site, students who graduated in 2019 earned more than $25 million in scholarship offers. On top of that, more than 70% of Westerville City School District graduates pursue post-secondary education at colleges and universities around the world or enter the military.

The Problem: Manual Free & Reduced Application Management

The Child Nutrition Secretary for WCSD, Wanda Myers, managed all aspects of the Free and Reduced program applications manually. Myers and her team performed manual import and export process every day because of their antiquated analog system. 

As a result, there was a one-day delay to any student’s Free and Reduced status. And that caused a delay in offering Free and Reduced meals to students. 

Secretaries had to help process applications manually, send them in for review, wait for approval, and then put the data into the point of sale system by hand. On top of all of the delays, the system was not user-friendly, and customer support became “pretty much non-existent,” according to Myers.

The Solution: A Cloud-Based School Meals Management System

Westerville City School District was seeking a meals management system that would boost the efficiency of their Free and Reduced program that met the following requirements:

  • Included a centralized database and real-time data updates
  • A system that had internet connectivity to efficiently integrate their student information with their point of sale system
  • A support staff that is readily available and knowledgeable to assist them with any technical issues quickly

LINQ Nutrition met all of the Westerville City Schools requirements and exceeded their expectations in the process. Let’s take a look at what happened after the implementation of the software.

The Results

With a smooth transition into using the LINQ Nutrition system, the benefits of implementing an internet-based cafeteria management solution was instantly clear.

Boosted Efficiency

WCSD experienced a rapid turnaround of applications. Once the information imported and processed into the LINQ Nutrition system, students received their Free and Reduced meals immediately. 

Money Savings

The efficiency of the LINQ Nutrition system also saved Westerville City Schools money on several different fronts.  Here’s how:

  • Printing costs associated with paper applications decreased with the arrival of the online system.
  • Slashing secretary involvement saved both time and money since the LINQ Nutrition system automatically processed the applications secretaries previously labored over. 

Myers said that the cost savings to the districts has been one of the best perks of implementing the LINQ Nutrition software. 

“One of the biggest improvements I’ve seen since implementing [LINQ Nutrition] is the cost savings to the district in the amount of overtime hours required at the start of the school for processing free and reduced lunch.”

Added Automation

The system also expedited the process of requiring new applications from households.

The robust reporting provided by LINQ NutritionMealPlus allows Myers and her staff to generate a report using the expiration date for applications. With a few clicks they easily generated letters to parents notifying them that a new application must be submitted. 

After the 30-day grace period for students, only a small percentage of new applications were pending submission.

Is your job more difficult because of your Free & Reduced management software? 

Whether you work from the district office or right in the heart of the school cafeteria, putting up with inefficient processes or insufficient software simply makes your job harder.

If you and your staff struggle to efficiently manage the aspects of your school’s meals program, consider the following:

  • Do you have to enter application information manually?
  • Are you relying on paper applications?
  • Is staff working overtime to update information?
  • Are students missing Free & Reduced meals updated information delays?
  • Does your POS system communicate with the Student Information System?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, it’s time to search for a school meals management software that’s right for your program.

Now it’s your turn! Is your meals management software up to snuff? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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