The Big Idea 2013: Food App

New food app delivers school lunch information for parents.

Published in FSD K-12 Spotlight

Wesley Delbridge, R.D.
Food and Nutrition Supervisor
Chandler Unified School District
Chandler, Ariz.

 

We built an app for our program. We did a survey of our parents and 87% wanted information either on the computer or on the phone. We were printing menus and spending a lot of money on these colorful menus that only 13% of our parents cared about.

Kids make their food decision based on what they see. So if they are looking at a menu and they see words they might have an idea of what that is. Maybe if they see a picture it will increase participation.

The goal with the app is that you can look at any one of our menus on any day and then break it down by item. If a parent says, “I’m not sure that pizza is healthy,” he can click on the pizza and see how many calories are in it, see all the nutritional values and also find out our allergen information. He can also see a picture of it. If a student comes home and says, “I had a banana nut muffin,” a parent might say that doesn’t sound very healthy. They can go to the app and see that we make it from scratch and we make it with sweet potatoes and whole grains.

Parents can also access mylunchmoney.com on our app to find out what their kid has eaten and how much lunch money they have left. If they need to put lunch money on their account they can do that on their phone. When I analyzed our website, I found that a lot of parents were using it between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. What that means is it’s a last-minute check on what are you having for lunch today. The app helps with that.

We also offer a nutrition education section with tips on how to make recipes at home. We post cooking demonstration videos and we have a news section. We also have a directory, so if they ever need to get in touch with one of our kitchens it’s a tap-to-call or email function.

The app is updated in real time. So let’s say a shipment doesn’t come in and the chicken dippers that we were going to offer on Wednesday don’t come in. I can go into the app and change chicken dippers to whatever we are substituting it with. When the parents go on to the app in the morning to see what we are serving they aren’t getting false information. A lot of diabetics use our site for carb information so that’s an important resource for them as well. They can also sign up for push notifications for department news.

The app also links up to our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Parents want to feel involved in the decision-making process and they want to have the information very easily accessible.

The app is for iPad and iPhone. We’re building an Android version.  

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
business marketing concepts drawing

Sharp, smart marketing materials can make all the difference when it comes to drawing a big crowd for a menu launch or upcoming event. With more avenues to cover than ever and fewer resources to go around, operators offer their tips on making marketing work from start to finish.

Start with communication

Whether it’s an in-house marketing department, an outside agency or someone on staff wearing the marketing hat part-time, the right people need to be involved early and often. “Marketing doesn’t always have a seat at the table [like] it should in order to be truly effective,” says...

Menu Development
health food medicine stethoscope

For the last two years, Chris Studtmann has jockeyed between Northwestern University’s residential dining halls and athletic training tables in his role of executive chef, trying to meet the health and food preferences of both sides. Now, his team is taking best practices developed for the sports teams to the 20,000-plus student population, working with dietitians from the school’s contract company to better sync healthy menu choices with lifestyle needs.

Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report shows younger consumers are especially tuned in to functional foods that...

Ideas and Innovation
trail mix

We’ve added fueling stations in our units for our workers who didn’t have time to eat or just need a snack. We have areas set up with trail mix, crackers, cookies and water. It helps us avoid people feeling or getting ill, especially when we get closer to exam periods and student workers are studying and not taking the time to eat.

Ideas and Innovation
reusable coffee cup thermos

We were inspired by a book titled “Influence” to start a sustainable cup program called My Cup. All 15,000 new students receive a reusable cup with their name on it, which they can use at the dining halls. Personalizing helps them invest in the program and actually use it.

FSD Resources