By Becky Domokos-Bays, PhD, RD, SNS, SNA President 2017-02-27 14:01:40
Don’t Stagnate, Step Up and Innovate FOOD TRUCKS AND CONVERTED SCHOOL BUSES. REMOTE ORDERING OF MEALS. BREAKFAST AFTER THE BELL. These are just a few of the many ways that school districts are meeting the needs of students today. Creative thinking leads to innovative ideas, and those ideas, when put to work, bring new value to our customers—and, hopefully, a positive impact to our bottom line. As I reflect on my experience at SNA’s School Nutrition Industry Conference (SNIC) in January, it’s apparent that school nutrition operations across the country realize that today’s customers reject the status quo. This has prompted many of us to offer services that no one considered just a few short years ago. While a continuous improvement mindset can cause tension among staff (change can be difficult to embrace), if we don’t continue to think futuristically, where will we be? Left behind. One of SNA’s greatest strengths is that members share creative solutions with one another. We do this through this magazine, our national and state meetings, our new Virtual Expo, Webinar Wednesdays and so on. There are so many ways we can learn from and be inspired by others, while sharing innovations that we have implemented. Here’s a recent example that I can share with other districts (especially those with a low free/reduced percentage like ours, which is 17%). We are working hard to build breakfast participation. After identifying some early-adopter principals, we are in the process of implementing breakfast after the bell service at our middle schools. We purchased a breakfast cart with grant money and did not need to increase labor. In the first week of offering breakfast after the bell at the first site, participation increased 187%! Another new innovation came from the district’s need to transport students at overcrowded middle schools to a nearby high school for part of the day. Because standard lunch periods in the cafeteria were not an option for these students, we have piloted a system of pre-ordering meals. My team and I can’t take credit for the idea of alternate breakfast service or remote ordering, but we can pat ourselves on the back for keeping an open mind and tweaking others’ ideas to solve our challenges. I encourage all of you to think like children—without a box. Imagine the possibilities and see new ways to disrupt old routines and old ways of thinking to provide better service to our customers.
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.
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