POS Empowers NJ Kids, Parents

District in Philadelphia suburb taps into technology to streamline lunch service.

FoodService Director - Cherry Hill School District - CashlessMore students who qualify for free or reduced-priced meals in the Cherry Hill (NJ) School District are participating in lunch, while parents are enjoying more control over kids’ meal selections, since the district converted to a computerized point-of-sale system.

As of the 2004-’05 school year, all students in the Cherry Hill schools either swipe their student identification cards or punch in their ID number on a keypad after choosing their lunch items, reports Aramark’s foodservice director Alicia Kent. The system allows parents to pre-pay the district for meals, in which case the card or account attached to the student’s ID serves as a declining-balance debit account. But students can still pay with cash.

Status equalizer: Cherry Hill is a suburb of Philadelphia just across the Delaware River. Kent says the new POS system eliminated the stigma attached to receiving free and reduced-price meals for the 10% of the district’s 11,800 students who are eligible—particularly in the secondary schools. She explains that the meal ticket system used in the elementary schools prevented possible stigmatization since all students used the tickets no matter whether they prepaid for their meals or received them free. But, that was not the case at the middle and high school level where students’ status was more noticeable.

About 60% of the parents of the elementary school students are pre-paying for meals. It’s a less-utilized option in the secondary schools, but there is about an average of $30,000 money deposited in the coffers on a given day. Kent says the system, which cost about $130,000 to implement, is working well and that the pre-pay option is trending up.

She notes that if a student in the middle or high school runs out of funds on their card, he or she is allowed to borrow money from the office for the day to get lunch. At the elementary level, cafeteria employees will let students get lunch with a depleted account, but the district will notify the parents of the negative balance.

Parental controls: Parents may also use the system to check on what their children have been selecting at the cafeteria and place limitations on items they don’t want their kids to have. ”The parents are enjoying it because it gives them more control,” says Kent.

The youngest customers in the district are also enjoying the system, which for them has eliminated the anxiety of having to keep track of their lunch tickets. “The little ones are doing outstanding,” says Kent. “They remember their ID numbers better than the older ones, and they are so proud.”

The learning curve was fairly comfortable for the foodservice employees, as well, according to Kent, who says that even employees with little computer experience have quickly gained confidence using the system.

Other benefits of the system are quicker queues as students become familiar with the new procedure, and the district’s ability to better track what’s selling and what’s not in the cafeterias.


Library Java Shop Books Extra Sales

Cherry Hill Public Schools’ foodservice team is boosting revenues since opening a coffee shop this past spring at a new local public library—a mutually beneficial partnership that provides foodservice for the library and funding for the school district.

Foodservice director Alicia Kent reports that the Cherry Hill Township, in order to boost library attendance, built a new facility complete with a café area on the first floor, and needed a management team to create an enticing environment in it. The school district, an Aramark account, now runs the library’s full-service Java City coffee shop, offering coffees, teas, a number of blended drinks, juices, sandwiches, fruit cups and other light fare. Java City is an independent branded concept that Aramark often places in its accounts in all market segments.

Revenue from the shop helps the school district, since money goes back into the foodservice department. “The district is reimbursed for any costs and receives a subsidy for the use of the property and for management co-labor,” Kent explains. “We’ve been looking to help Cherry Hill grow its foodservice position.”

Not just coffee: “We sell as much food as we do coffee,” Kent adds, noting that the shop does an average of about 140 to 150 transactions daily. “We sell a lot of sandwiches, fruit cups and veggie cups. We see a lot of parents come down from the children’s library and they’ll split sandwiches with their child or get a snack.”

The library has also become a destination spot for some employees of local businesses who come in for lunch.
School foodservice staff prepares the food, which is then delivered daily to the library. Sandwiches cost $3.50 and include roast beef and Swiss cheese; ham and Cheddar; and a peanut butter and jelly wrap.

 

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Maryland will begin offering weekly specials at all of its dining halls this semester, The Diamond Back reports.

The weekday specials will allow Dining Services to offer past menu items that students miss as well as new dishes students have been requesting, according to a spokesperson.

Students can find out which specials are being offered each week via dining hall table tents as well as through Dining Services’ social media. During select weeks, the specials may reflect a particular theme, such as Taste of the South.

Read the full story via...

Menu Development
jackfruit

It emerged as a top food trend on Pinterest’s 2017 predictions, is “the latest miracle food” according to Epicurious, and was called “a nutritional bonanza” by NPR. Jackfruit is the latest superfood garnering buzz, and Even Stevens Sandwiches has gone after the vegetarian-friendly option for a recently launched torta. Here, Culinary Director Brandon Price shares three lessons learned from adding jackfruit to the menu.

Finding the best form

Using fresh jackfruit wasn’t the answer for the chain. It has to be sourced internationally, and breaking it down cuts into labor costs. But...

Ideas and Innovation
hibachi grill cooking

We saw in 2016 that many operators were trying to have some type of display cooking in their food operation. We installed a hibachi grill this fall, and within three months we had 300 residents and guests make reservations. We also use our hibachi grill for cooking classes twice a month, where our hibachi chef Abby Kramer does an excellent job teaching different cuisines. We have received so many compliments that we have decided to get another hibachi grill for a different dining venue in 2017.

Menu Development
brisket beef plate

Just when it seemed barbecue couldn’t get any trendier—it did. More consumers now than in 2014 are looking for a variety of barbecue menu items, according to Technomic’s Center of the Plate: Beef & Pork Consumer Trend Report. The demand is up for smoked sausage (+19%), beef brisket (+12%) and beef ribs (+16%) for dinner—a trend noncommercial operators say they are also noticing.

Corporate Executive R&D Chef Jeffrey Quasha at Atlanta-based Morrison Healthcare helped launched 50 Liberty Street BBQ microconcept locations throughout the U.S. in December. Due to their success,...

FSD Resources