We have talked about the challenges that SFAs face regarding handwritten food production records. But the pain doesn’t stop with the school manager or even the Central Office staff. You may not realize that handwritten food production records can be a thorn in your State agency’s side as well!
Channeling my inner-David Letterman, and with help from a few compliance monitors, I have compiled a “Top Ten List” to shed some light on State agency production record woes. I hope you enjoy this list. Please share any points that I may have missed via the comment box. Here we go…

Top Ten Ways Handwritten Food Production Records are a Pain in the Tush for State agencies:

  1. No CliffsNotes (i.e., summary reports) to quickly analyze data: Looking at every single page of production records for discrepancies is a great cure for insomnia but not such a brilliant use of your afternoon.
  1. Requires using unfamiliar desk and chair: Reviewers must be on-site to review handwritten records and might even be stuck in an uncomfortable chair. Or worse, they may be in a realllly comfortable chair (see #10 above regarding insomnia cure).
  1. Wherefore art thou, dear production record? Handwritten production records have a way of disappearing, resulting in valuable time lost to the search of required documents. Paging Mr. Holmes…investigative services needed.
  1. We aren’t in Kansas anymore… Even with all of her tornado experience, Dorothy would have a hard time sifting through mounds of paper production records.
  1. Who? What? When? Where? No really… Handwritten food production records could have been written by the school manager’s teenager the weekend before the review. There is no way to validate that the DAILY food production record was actually completed daily by the folks who produced the food.
  1. Proficiency in reading chicken scratch comes in handy: You laugh because you know I am right. There is no way to get around the fact that some people’s handwriting is atrocious (mine included – just ask my co-workers).
  1. Spilled milk (and coffee and marinara sauce and any number of other liquids): Handwritten paper production records seem to attract all sorts of mishaps. Let’s face it: there’s a lot of stuff in a school kitchen that can wind up on a paper record even when you are really careful.
  1. Paper cuts – OUCH! Handle enough paper and you are bound to get cut. The bloodshed must end!
  1. Puzzles should be a hobby – not a career path. Once you have all of the production records in hand, relatively organized, and are able to read them, you then have to hold your breath and whisper a silent prayer that they are completed properly with no missing pieces.

And the NUMBER ONE way that handwritten food production records are a pain in the tush for State agencies… (Please imagine a drumroll here)

  1. Leads to the need for reading glasses: I said it before, but compliance monitors I talked to on the subject insisted that crazy hand-writing should make the list at least three times (I kept it down to just twice, though). No matter how much you squint, some handwriting just won’t make sense!

Were any items on my top ten list “news” to you? I am sure you recognize that though I jest, handwritten paper food production records really are an equal-opportunity headache for all involved. In addition to the operational efficiencies gained through electronic production records, they can ease the administrative review process tremendously. Let’s face it, whether you are a Cafeteria Manager, Food Service Director, or Compliance Monitor, we ALL want smoother ARs!
PS: I would like to thank the compliance monitors in various states who offered anonymous input on this article. I hope that my humorous spin on your very real challenges lived up to your expectations and made you smile!