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.

Tips from Our Child Nutrition Operations Consultant: The 5 P’s of Promoting Your School Meal Program!

In our most recent white paper, “The 5 P’s of Promoting Your School Meal Program,” Child Nutrition Operations Consultant Cynthia Sevier, SNS, examines how you can promote your child nutrition program, and shares real-life experiences in school districts across the country. “The 5 P’s” are Product, Placement, Promotion, Price and People. Here is a real-life example of how you can implement “Promotion” in your program:

Promoting_school_cafeteriasKurt Chou, School Nutrition Director for Los Nietos School District in Whittier, California has increased participation by trying to change the image of the program. First, Kurt increased his marketing efforts. He has implemented the use of salad bars and updated the point-of-sale system for efficiency. “Second Chance Breakfast” has been implemented to offer students an opportunity to get breakfast if they are not hungry or present when the first breakfast was served. Kurt also felt that it was important to include his staff in the reimaging of the program and purchased uniforms for his employees.

To read more about marketing your school meal program
download your free copy of “The 5 P’s of Promoting Your School Meal Program.”

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Reduce Paperwork Stress with Our Online Services

Wherever there is internet access, there is also access to Meals Plus’ easy to use online services for your child nutrition department! Our online payment website, K12PaymentCenter.com, allows parents to pay for meals and school fees, see what their students are purchasing in the cafeteria and set ‘low balance’ alerts . Parents can submit free and reduced applications online easily at LunchApplication.com. This means less paperwork for your district staff and faster processing of payments and applications.

Email us or call 1-800-541-8999 for more information today!Parents_pay_online