The cost-of-living crisis is affecting households and organisations across the country, and schools are up against tough situations as they try to help the worst-affected families while struggling themselves. Technology solutions, like Cypad, can help schools to improve efficiency and ultimately cut costs; here’s how our solutions can help your school save money.
How is the current crisis affecting school meals?
The cost-of-living crisis directly or indirectly affects most aspects of daily life, and schools and parents are all feeling the pinch. Increasing food costs on the surface means that school meals are expensive to produce, but the issue also runs more profound than that. The invasion of Ukraine is resulting in a reduced supply of key ingredients, meaning caterers are facing increasing difficulties getting hold of essential items they need to provide school meals, and having to source ingredients from alternative suppliers which risks pushing prices up even further. Meanwhile, unrelenting hikes in energy bills are resulting in schools being out of pocket to have the kitchen running, putting extreme pressure on already-tight budgets.
In households, parents across the country are feeling the stretch as bills are on the rise, and food prices are at the centre of the impossible decisions parents are being forced to make. A report by Barnardo’s in October 2022 found 1 in 5 parents in Great Britain said they have struggled to provide sufficient food due to the current cost-of-living crisis and that 54% of parents have been forced to cut back on food spending for their family over the past 12 months. School meals can provide a lifeline for families facing poverty and help to fight the impact of poverty on educational attainment by making sure children aren’t too hungry to learn in the afternoon.
In our 2022 School Meals Report, 41%% of packed lunch users and 34% of packed lunch and school meal users said that lower costs would increase how frequently they chose school meals. The cost was the third top factor affecting school meal uptake for our respondents; the first factor was wider selection, and better quality was second. Clearly, there is a need to keep school meals as affordable as possible during this time of increased financial pressure, to maintain uptake but also in order to ensure every child gets a hot, healthy meal every day.
How can Cypad solutions help schools save money?
Part of the ParentPay Group, Cypad’s solutions are designed to help schools to save money by making the school meal process time and cost-efficient.
With Meal Selection, school meals can be pre-ordered up to 10 weeks in advance, enabling caterers to order food according to demand, minimising wastage and ensuring only necessary money is spent. Most commonly, meals are ordered in class at the beginning of the day, so school caterers only cook meals that have been ordered and leftover ingredients aren’t wasted. Intuitive reporting allows caterers to examine past meal orders, to identify which meals are the most popular and effectively plan future catering to meet demand without waste or overspending.
Meal Selection is also a valuable tool in reducing human error which may result in a child’s meal going to waste, for example, if a child with an allergy is given a meal they cannot eat. You can find out more about allergens in school meals in the wake of Natasha’s Law.
Cypad’s Nutritional Analysis forms another central part of our school’s money-saving efforts by analysing the cost-per-plate based on recipes you create and averaging out the cost based on predicted uptake. This will help schools to identify where cost savings can be made by amending recipes, and Nutritional Analysis will also provide precise data on the nutritional value of the recipe to ensure the changes are still healthy for the children. Our Nutritional Analysis tool also helps parents and students to make good meal choices by providing data on the nutritional value of each meal on offer.
Supporting these functions is Kitchen Manager, Cypad’s paperless kitchen management solution. It integrates seamlessly with Meal Selection and Nutritional Analysis to provide a one-stop shop for your school’s catering provision. It reduces hours of admin time to help your staff focus on what really matters. Kitchen Manager lets you manage stock levels, order from suppliers, handle documentation and more, using one intuitive tablet for a completely paperless operation,
To find out more about Cypad and to book a demo, get in touch with us.