Jamie Wilson was looking for something like Pro•Team for a long time. As Director of Food Service for the Superior School District (SSD), Wilson discussed his menu concerns with a Pro•Team menu specialist. He reports there was an answer for every single one of his questions — and by the time their project was complete, Pro•Team had (unofficially) become his chef, assistant director, and data entry specialist all-in-one.
“Wow, our freezers actually shut?” jokes Wilson. “We don’t have something hiding in the back? Thanks to Pro•Team, my students get the best products we have because we understand the menus better.”
Superior School District began its School Menu Solutions partnership with Pro•Team in 2018. Like each answer to Wilson’s questions, Pro•Team had a solution for every challenge.
SSD PRIMARY CHALLENGES
1. TIME AND RESOURCES. Wilson had a long-term vision for SSD that included thorough nutrient analysis of their menus and more fresh fruits and vegetables. These projects would require data collection and data entry, all of which would take Wilson away from high-level tasks. “I just couldn’t get around to doing the things that needed to get done,” remarks Wilson.
2. EFFICIENCY. With 4,800 meals a day at eight different sites, Wilson recognized the need to streamline. SSD runs five high school lunch lines, after-school programs, a snack program for the elementary schools, concession stands, and a free breakfast program (to name a few). He needed to track their costs, analyze the nutrient content of their food, and reduce their 80-page inventory report to something manageable.
3. ALLERGIES AND SPECIAL DIETS. Parents were calling Jamie—a lot. Because the menus weren’t always accurate online, parents had questions about the menus’ ingredients. “Our menu was not very well adhered to,” says Wilson. “There were so many menus that I didn’t develop; it was hard to nail down what products we were using or should be using.”
1. DATA COLLECTION AND ENTRY. The sheer volume of data was overwhelming. Wilson resolved to send everything to Julie Powers, RD, SNS, one of Pro•Team ’s Menu Specialists. “It was a lot of time and a lot of data entry,” shares Powers. “But we have a system setup for how this works: we gather information about products, USDA foods, dairy and bread vendors, and any other vendors they were using. We start with the ingredients.”
2. ORGANIZATION AND SAVINGS. Once Powers recorded ingredients, she could evaluate recipes and menus in a systematic fashion. She looked at meals that were high in calories, for example, and suggested alternative items. This was not just about improving nutrition; this was about improving efficiency: “We’ve introduced so many more items—and we’re spending the same amount of money and have less inventory,” marvels Wilson. SSD reduced their 80-page inventory report by 15% and their system is fiscally sound.
3. LEVERAGING TECHNOLOGY. Powers got all the menus online (using My School Menus). This digital migration changed everything for Wilson, who says he carries peace of mind when it comes to allergies and special diets. “Now that we narrowed down what products we’re serving, I can tell parents, ‘Go to our website, look at our menu, and here’s what we serve,’” says Wilson. He reports a significant reduction in allergy-related phone calls from parents.
4. BETTER PRODUCT, BETTER PARTICIPATION. Since the School Menu Solutions project, Wilson sees more staff eating at the high school and middle schools—a sign that the food tastes delicious for all ages. “Through all this, I’m able to capitalize on a better product for our students and staff,” says Wilson. “Kids have a lot of options, which leads to a lot of participation.”
Are you ready to shake up your menus and get them online?
Contact a Pro•Team advisor to discuss how School Menu Solutions might be the next right step.
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