In March 2020, millions of lives were impacted by a global pandemic that, as of this writing, persists. Stay-at-home orders found us in new situations we had never before experienced, such as social distancing, using protective masks, self-quarantining, working from home, and dealing with businesses and schools being closed for months.
With no cures and no vaccines, we are adapting to new routines to protect ourselves and everyone around us. In some cases, only minor changes are necessary; in others, the challenges are very difficult, as is the case with re-opening schools.
Schools must solve problems that include proper social distancing for transportation, classrooms, hallways, and common areas; health monitoring; remote learning; and feeding students. For some schools, it will be necessary to operate under split attendance schedules, which comes with additional hurdles.
For food service, social distancing requirements alone dictate new procedures for avoiding closeness in lines, crowding at tables, and group gatherings during meal service. It is apparent to us that school food service departments need whatever help we can provide.
To assist, we began by conversing with state, USDA, and LEA contacts to discuss preliminary back-to-school plans being developed by officials and to share our thoughts relative to food service. After exploring many options, we committed to providing a software solution to aid schools in meeting their goals for making meal time safer in these difficult times.
To that end, for back-to-school 2020, Meal Magic Corporation is releasing new functionality for its Meal Magic Cloud school food service products. Collectively, we refer to these new features as OSS – an acronym for order, serve, and sell. Let’s take a closer look.
Order – OSS provides up to three methods of taking lunch orders in advance: a classroom portal that teachers can access to enter choices for their students, a kiosk portal that allows students and adults to place orders, and a parent portal that allows parents to place orders for their children. These portals offer same day ordering and advance ordering for coming days.
Because some schools will operate on split attendance schedules, OSS ordering allows customers to be divided into two groups. This lets different meal choices to be offered depending on whether a group is in attendance or at home for a given day.
Serve – Orders will be tallied by cafeteria, lunch period , and item choices so food can be prepared for distribution. Labels can be printed and applied to packaging to identify each order. Once meals are ready, they can be served. Some schools might bring meals to classrooms, others might offer pickup at designated locations, and some might do both.
Sometimes it might not be possible to serve a prepared lunch, such as could happen if a meal were ordered in advance but then the child did not attend school due to being ill. Because these unclaimed meals cannot be charged to the customers and cannot be counted for reimbursement, OSS provides an easy mechanism for removing them prior to converting distributed orders to sales.
Sell – At the end of the day, after canceling undistributed orders, OSS can create sales to match the orders for that day, eliminating the need to record the sales at POS terminals. Upon completion of the process, sales reports will reflect sales created from the orders.
For flexibility, OSS is scaleable. Schools can choose one, two, or all three ordering portals to fit their needs and budget. Portals allow any number of users: hundreds of classrooms, thousands customers, and thousands of parents.
OSS provides an end-to-end solution that takes into consideration not just ordering but also the distribution of orders and the recording of sales from those orders. Other companies offer basic online ordering portals, but their systems can be quite cumbersome. They typically do not handle split attendance schedules, and, because they do not connect with POS systems, can increase labor costs since orders do not flow into finalized sales.
If you are still struggling with back-to-school plans for your food service department, give us a call. We’re confident that Meal Magic Cloud with OSS can ease your burden.