The future’s bright at Willard Public Schools in Missouri. Nutrition leaders at the district say they couldn’t be more confident in their all-in-one solution, LINQ Nutrition, a key component of the LINQ platform. It helps them save time and money so they can focus on their top priority: delivering quality meals to students. They’re also giving families an easy solution for making payments, tracking student meal and snack purchases, and finding menu and nutrition information with LINQ Connect, our digital payments and parent portal solution.
As part of our ongoing partnership with Willard Public Schools, they shared their story with us in a recent video chat. They told us how their new solution helps them solve challenges that bogged down efficiency in previous years. Read on to hear how the only fully integrated front of house (FOH) and back of house (BOH) K-12 nutrition solution helps them nourish hungry, learning students every day.
Moving on from manual K-12 nutrition management processes
Manual processes, paper forms, and individually updated spreadsheets weren’t cutting it at Willard. On top of that, trying to process around 1,200 meal applications manually each August was too stressful and time-consuming. They knew technology had to offer a better, more efficient way to manage their nutrition program, so they set out looking for an all-in-one online solution for meal applications, menu planning, production records, and meal sales.
Their search led them to LINQ Nutrition, and Director of Nutrition Services Phil Broyles says their instincts were spot-on when they first learned about its capabilities. “We found it and it had the features and capabilities we needed… we use it every day now and we love it,” he says.
Administrative Assistant of Curriculum, Nutrition Services, and Custodial Services Sharon Petty agrees that LINQ Nutrition stood out because it was the only solution that offered a single, easy-to-use system for her team. “LINQ had the features we were looking for and it was really easy to use,” she says. While other providers offered a portion of the total package Willard needed, only LINQ combined FOH and BOH tools in an integrated platform. “Everybody we talked to at LINQ was really supportive,” Petty remembers, “and the solution really sold itself. Everybody we talked to at LINQ was really supportive, and the solution really sold itself.”
A better K-12 nutrition software solution from the start
Implementation was a collaborative process, says Broyles. “One of the first things we did was talk with LINQ about exactly how we wanted the system set up. They had a sheet for us to fill in our preferences, and then they took it from there,” he says. The LINQ implementation team then configured the software to Willard’s specifications, and the next step was training district team members on getting the most from their new solution.
Broyles says the transition from seeing the software for the first time to getting the team trained on it went smoother than other implementations he’s experienced. “They got it working and then we rolled it out to the kitchen managers,” he says. Kitchen managers quickly grasped the system’s primary functions and were prepared in time for the school year to start. “We just didn’t experience the hiccups you often get with new technology,” Broyles remembers.
Nutrition software that serves students, staff, and families
Broyles and Petty say LINQ Nutrition helps them deliver healthy, delicious meals to students all year. The FOH and BOH integration makes inventory and production a breeze for kitchen managers. They no longer manage it all by hand. The system automatically updates as new inventory is logged in and as point-of-service (POS) transactions occur.
The Willard team looks forward to launching the online menu this year. “So far, so good,” says Broyles. “We already have the website set up and have received positive comments about it.” School websites feature an embedded link to the menu, making it easy for families to find and plan their student’s meals for the week.
Families love the LINQ Connect K-12 digital payment app
As part of their new all-in-one K-12 nutrition solution, Willard uses LINQ Connect for meal payments, communication, and information. “Families love the app,” says Petty. Although the district isn’t operating fully cashless, families really like the flexibility to fund digital meal accounts from anywhere. “They really like how user-friendly the app is,” Petty adds.
Families use their mobile device to check balances, fund meal accounts, and see students’ meal purchase history. They can also access free and reduced-price lunch application information and nutrition details. Important alerts, messages, and updates can be sent through the app to keep families informed and let them know when there’s a low balance or a payment due. LINQ Connect also offers an online portal for computer access.
Additionally, digital payments give students an easier way to pay for their meals. They don’t have to count money, wait for change, or worry about dropping coins on the floor. Faster transactions lead to shorter waits in the lunch line.
An easier, all-in-one solution built for the future at Willard Public Schools
Willard Public Schools gets to move forward with K-12 nutrition technology that delivers for their entire school community. Staff members get easy-to-use tools that automate many of their processes and make inventory, production records, and menus easier. Students get delicious, nutritious meals every day with an easier way to pay so they can move through the lunch lines quicker.
Broyles and Petty agree that they found the right solution in LINQ Nutrition. They plan to work with their finance team to integrate their systems further and simplify purchasing and ordering. They also say they’re excited to continue training their kitchen managers on the system’s dynamic reporting features to drive even more data-informed decisions.