Nutrition Technology for K-12 Schools: The Greatest Gift of All

Brightly wrapped presents in offset rows on a bright orange background pink wrapping with blue ribbons teal wrapping with yellow ribbons nutrition technology greatest gift k12 schools

The greatest gift you can give your school nutrition program is the gift of efficiency. Since we don’t have a magic wand that we can wave around, the next best thing is technology that helps you get work done even in the face of challenges you couldn’t have imagined facing. From staffing shortages to supply chain issues, the 2021-2022 school year has brought on roadblocks that no one saw coming, especially after the madhouse that was ‘’20-’21! 

This year has you stressed out. We get it. 

But picture this: You are in control of every aspect of your meals program – it no longer runs you. Participation is up, your service line and speed are faster than ever, and the Free and Reduced program is practically automated. 

Can you feel your shoulders relaxing? Is that a smile on your face? Why, yes. Yes, it is! That’s what nutrition technology can do for your K-12 school lunch program. 

Read on to learn how school nutrition technology can: 

  • Increase participation
  • Speed up service 
  • Expedite service for remote students
  • Reduce costs
  • Decrease IT reliance

Ramped Up Participation with Nutrition Technology

Convenience and efficiency are two things to look for when considering nutrition technology. You want to give your participation numbers a boost, so you need a system that will make it easy for students and their families to participate, reduce your workload, all while running smoother than ever. 

When researching solutions for your program, here are a few things to look for: 

  1. A POS system that tracks student favorites. A dynamic point-of-sale system helps you to build a menu loaded with items that kids enjoy the most. If their favorite food items keep popping up on the menu, of course they’re going to want to grab them! 
  2. A digital menu display for the cafeteria. Digital menus are engaging for students and school staff alike. Students’ attention spans have shortened even more since the pandemic, so it’s important to have displays that are eye-catching. Look for a solution that includes pre-built templates that are easy to edit. As an added bonus, digital menu boards allow you to highlight items and increase sales by up to 50%
  3. An online application for Free and Reduced programs. An online application provides the convenience that families are looking for. Not only does it make it easier than ever for students to get enrolled, but keeping their information updated is also a breeze. 

A Lunch Line That’s as Fast as Your Wifi Connection

That POS system we mentioned above? That is the key to speed in your lunch line. A POS system streamlines the checkout process to help students get served and sitting down to eat faster than ever before. It also connects to your school’s student information system (SIS), so that it’s always updated in real-time. 

Digital menus help here, too! The boards are so engaging that they reduce the perceived wait time up to 35%. If students have a way to stay entertained, they’re less likely to think about how many people are ahead of them in line.

Fast Food Drive Thrus Have Nothing on Your Grab & Go Orders

Many school districts are still offering remote and hybrid learning schedules through the remainder of the 2021-2022 school year, so it’s important to continue to improve this experience. If you face the challenges of serving students who are off campus, online ordering can help.

An online ordering solution allows you to accept bulk orders for on and off-site pick up locations. If you’re serving students in their classrooms, online ordering makes it possible for teachers and staff to send in meal orders for their class rosters with the click of a button. Ultimately, this reduces the amount of students in your cafeteria and makes homeroom service more efficient. 

Another benefit? Accepting online orders automatically speeds up the lunch line! Since those who placed orders online visit a separate pick up station to grab their meals, they have no need to head to the cafeteria. That’s a win!

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Lower the cost of doing business – who doesn’t love that?

Chances are very likely you are always on the hunt for ways to cut costs in your meals program. Nutrition technology helps by reducing paper usage, decreasing time spent on administrative tasks, and making inventory a breeze. Here’s how:

Online Applications

  • Reduces the amount of administrative time it takes to enter application information manually.
  • Automatically mails a letter to parents or guardians to keep them updated on the students’ status.
  • System updates happen in real-time, so there isn’t any lost productivity.

Online payments

  • Reduces the amount of time spent tracking down meal payments from parents.
  • Automatically alerts parents of low balance or debt, so your staff is free to serve children nutritious and delicious meals.

Mobile App for Inventory

  • Connects to your meal planning system so you can easily see what you have on hand and what you need to use.
  • Changes to inventory are updated in real-time, so the counts are always accurate on-site and at your central office.

Nutrition technology helps minimize your reliance on IT.

Your nutrition technology should be easy to use by everyone on your team. No one wants a tool that makes you 100% reliant on IT for every little issue that arises. School meals management software like LINQ makes it easy to implement and learn.

But how will you know the software is easy-to-use before purchasing? Hunt for product reviews. One of our favorite reviews is from Nicholas De Pauw, the Director of Information Technology for Patterson Unified School District:

With our previous system, we had to create an Access database that had to be maintained daily and updated every time we had a change. Now, the API allows our SIS to push the necessary data into [the TITAN platform] with no actions needed from IT. This really has given power back to the cafeteria, freed up IT resources, and improved data accuracy in both systems. We no longer waste valuable time on the back end and can focus on working with our data in the program – which is always a win!

The easier the software is to use, the less likely you’ll need IT to step in.

Nutrition technology helps you stress less and do more.

The new year is upon us. It’s time to make positive changes that will impact the whole year. When your staff is stressed, inevitably, that has a negative impact on your students’ school experience. We’re all here to make school a happy and safe place for kids, after all. If you school meals program feels disorganized and inefficient, or if the student participation is lacking, it’s time to consider an upgrade in your nutrition technology

Your program deserves a school meals management solution that makes students want to participate, speeds up service, lessens the administrative load, and makes your team more self-sufficient. 

Nutrition technology is truly the gift that keeps on giving all year long. 

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