3 Ways to Reduce End-of-Year Lunch Debt

At the end of the school year, uncollected lunch debt can put schools in a difficult situation. The balance between feeding hungry students and maintaining financial stability while also following district guidelines is crucial. Luckily, there are ways to help reduce this problem. Following these guidelines along with the help of Meals Plus can help you end your school year right.

1.  Make sure eligible students take advantage of free and reduced-price meals.

The start of the school year can strongly impact how your cafeteria finishes out the year. Communication with parents is crucial, and the sooner you can start the better! Create a summer outreach plan to encourage early application submission so kids have reimbursable meals from the first day of school. Moving this process online can also increase completed applications while making the processing easier for schools. With LunchApplication the free and reduced application process is easy and accessible for parents while integrating with the Meals Plus Free and Reduced program to accurately update eligibility.

2.  Encourage meal prepayment with alternative methods.

Another online solution for optimizing parent accessibility is offering an online payment system. With K12PaymentCenter, the process of loading money onto student accounts is simplified by allowing credit and debit card payments whenever they want. This automatically integrates with the Meals Plus POS so balance and activity are always updated.

3.  Remind parents when money is owed.

Being proactive in keeping parents informed about their student’s account can make a huge difference in decreasing outstanding balances. K12PaymentCenter not only allows parents to view account balances and what students are buying but also sends balance notifications via email and text, so they are always in the loop. Soon parents will even be able to do all of this from the convenience of their smartphone. Be on the lookout soon for K12PaymentCenter to hit the app store!

The key to reducing unpaid meal charges is being proactive, and communicating clearly. With Meals Plus, these steps can be taken in a simple, automated way making things easier for parents and cafeteria staff.  For more guidelines on overcoming the unpaid meal challenge, check out the USDA Food and Nutrition Service guide.

Kettering City Schools (OH) Experiences a Smooth Implementation Process and the Highest Level of Support

Overview
Kettering City Schools consists of eleven schools near Dayton, OH. Each day the cafeteria staff of 52 serves nearly 7,400 students. In 2011-2012, they served over 157,000 breakfasts and 722,000 lunches.

District Obstacles
In early 2000, Kettering City Schools was using a small software management company that was not K-12 focused with less than satisfactory customer service. Kettering’s Supervisor of Food and Nutrition, Louise Easterly, felt their software company was learning as they went along at her school district’s expense.

Finding the Answer
Louise knew it was time to find a more established company with experience serving K-12 school districts that also provided excellent customer service. When she was introduced to Meals Plus, she was excited to find the account managers were extremely knowledgeable about the system components. And if a question or issue required more research the solution was found in no time. The training and implementation experience was outstanding from beginning to end thanks to her dedicated training and implementation manager. Having one point of contact to walk you through every step was indeed a “plus”. And the level of customer support did not diminish after implementation. Louise was pleased to find Meals Plus was not a company that “left you hanging after training was complete”.

Results
Since implementing Meals Plus, Kettering City Schools has greatly reduced the amount of hours required to collect lunch money and submit state required reports. Office tasks like generating letters to send home, such as low balance or balance due, are done at the click of a mouse.

And because state regulated reports are easily generated within the system, including CN6 and CN7, the hours of manual data input has also greatly decreased.

See how Meals Plus software system improved other school districts’ child nutrition operations across the US!

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