Innovating Your School Nutrition Program with Online Ordering

Female holding grab-and-go meal in a school classroom online ordering school nutrition programs

School nutrition directors and staff had a collective sigh of relief at the end of June when the USDA announced new flexibilities for serving children when schools re-open in the fall. 

The changes come on the heels of concern over how students of all ages will continue to enjoy reimbursable meals while learning remotely.

The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, noted the new waivers provide states, schools, and childcare providers the time they need to plan for serving their students in the fall. The measure also includes room for innovative food service options, like online ordering, as the nation bounces back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Perdue said the flexibilities are necessary to feed students no matter what and to give states and schools the room to operate based on their local situations.

“As the country re-opens and schools prepare for the fall, a one-size-fits-all approach to meal service simply won’t cut it,” said Secretary Sonny Perdue. 

“The flexibilities announced today give states, schools, and child care providers the certainty they need to operate the USDA child nutrition programs in ways that make sense given their local, on-the-ground situations and ensure America’s children can count on meal service throughout the school year.”

USDA Flexibilities for School Nutrition Programs

Many schools have yet to determine which learning model or models they will use in the fall. So, the need for flexibility in school food service is clear. 

The USDA is offering flexibilities around:

  • Meal patterns
  • Group-setting requirements
  • Meal service times
  • Parent/guardian meal pick-up for kids
  • Offer versus serve for high school students

These waivers remove the barriers in school food service, supporting normal school nutrition operations while also helping nutrition directors respond to their unique, local situations.

Innovate Your School Nutrition Program with Online Ordering

The USDA waivers are a big deal, empowering your school nutrition program to continue service despite your local circumstances. On top of that, it provides your program wiggle room to innovate.

Innovation is fun to consider but often scary to implement. However, now is the time to make bold moves to feed students wherever they are learning. 

Whether food service is happening in the cafeteria, in individual classrooms, or through grab-and-go, online ordering helps your team fulfill orders efficiently and get reimbursed for those meals. 

School Food Service Beyond the Cafeteria

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to roil, and there’s a slim chance that offering traditional food service in the cafeteria will be an option in the fall. 

As you research ways to make your program ultra-efficient while getting everyone fed, it’s worth looking into online ordering. The Online Ordering solution from LINQ Nutrition helps nutrition departments receive orders for individuals or large groups.

Online ordering helps you to accept orders for the following:

Classroom Orders: Schools will incorporate more classroom meals to keep students and staff distanced. An online ordering solution makes it possible for teachers and staff to order meals by class rosters, reducing the number of students in your lunchroom and making homeroom serving more efficient. 

Nutrition Directors can also allow parents to pre-order meals for their students and determine a deadline for order placement. If a parent forgets to place an order for their child – no problem. The LINQ Nutrition Online Ordering tool makes it possible for teachers to place an order for them. 

Grab & Go Orders: Many schools plan to incorporate remote learning in the fall, so meals will have to be provided to those off-campus students. The LINQ Nutrition Online Ordering platform allows you to accept bulk orders for on and off-site pick up locations, allowing students to grab their meals and go. 

Online Ordering Features to Look For

Not all K-12 school online ordering tools are created equal. If you’re looking to add a little innovation to your program while ramping up its efficiency, consider some of the following items.

Does it connect to any SIS or POS?

The new school year is coming at a rapid pace. If you’re considering adding new technology to your program, it has to work with what you already use. And it’s especially true of an online ordering tool.

The online ordering solution from LINQ Nutrition connects with any SIS or POS system you already use with FTP uploads. This saves you tons of time and money.

Are the meals ordered online reimbursable? 

The online ordering tool you select should require people to order a fully reimbursable meal. With the LINQ Nutrition Online Ordering tool, the person ordering cannot submit their order until reimbursable meal components are selected. 

As a nutrition director, what can I do within the system?

You need an online ordering system so you meet all regulations and requirements while also getting meals out the door. With LINQ’s online ordering tool, you can:

  • Easily pull reports and filter by homeroom, student name, and more!
  • Add meal pricing based on student status, adults, and staff.
  • Set different pricing by grade level.
  • Determine a deadline for receiving orders – whether it’s daily or weekly.
  • Quickly print order labels for classroom or grab-and-go orders.

Make Food Service Effortless in the New School Year with Online Ordering

It’s apparent: online ordering simplifies the way K-12 school nutrition departments handle large orders and serve outside of the cafeteria. And with the new wiggle room for innovation granted by the USDA, now is the time to try something different!

The frustration with adding new solutions is that you sometimes have to purchase other new software to make everything work. That’s not the case with The LINQ Nutrition Online Ordering software. It works with what you already have. The implementation time is speedy and we thoroughly train your staff so that everyone is on the same page.

Time is of the essence. Many schools in the U.S. open in mid-August at the earliest. There’s no room for hesitation. Make the new normal in K-12 food service work for you with online ordering.

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