It’s summer time and you know what that means! School Year 2018-2019 is wrapped up and the summer sun is calling your name! As you and your district’s nutrition staff transition into summer break, read this helpful list of ways to head into this summer on top of the game and come back more prepared than ever for next year.

1. Properly store computers and Point-of-Service (POS) machines.

Protect your electronic devices from the elements as much as possible. Store all computers, POS machines, and digital menu boards in a climate-controlled facility (think air conditioning and humidity control). Additionally, it is always recommended to protect all devices with a cover or drape of some kind to prevent dust from settling into nooks and crannies.

Label machines properly so removal from storage in the fall is a cinch. Make sure to denote whether the machine is a managerial-level machine, and the location where the machine is configured. We’ve observed many chaotic situations in August where districts are left scrambling to figure out which machines go where. Keep this in mind for best practice to get ahead of the game when closing up shop for the summer.

2. Unplug large appliances or turn off the kitchen breaker box.

This is a money saving tip that is often overlooked by many districts heading into summer. If you have locations that don’t host events during the summer, feeding or otherwise, it may be wise to completely remove that site’s large appliances (ovens, refrigerators, coolers, etc.) from electrical current. Even if not switched on, plugged in appliances still pull electricity and cost your district valuable dollars.

3. Assess your inventory. Figure out what goes and what stays.

In these past few months, you’ve probably already begun paring down your inventory stock to just the necessities. Now it’s time to decide what to keep over the summer and what unfortunately must be thrown away. Don’t forget another option- donate to a local food bank, which we highly recommend. Moreover, a great way to utilize your remaining items is to transfer food to a district summer feeding site. This allows you an opportunity to continue claiming reimbursable meals out of your inventory.

4. As a reminder, make sure all automated, recurring, or par level orders are stopped for the summer.

This is self-explanatory. Of course, you don’t want delivery trucks showing up to an empty site! You’ve probably been tying up your loose ends for a month or two now and preparing for next year, but it’s a good reminder to double-check your list.

5. Have your managers create their first “back-to-school” order before leaving for summer.

Have your manager create their first back-to-school order now so the district’s food service director can send each order in mid-July/early August. This way, orders will arrive when the site manager reports back to work. It helps streamline the timing of everything, and gives your managers one less thing to prepare in the crazy, hectic month before the kiddos come back to the cafeteria.

6. Parents requesting a refund from their child’s school lunch account? Remind them to turn off auto-pay.

Online payments is a feature within our SchoolCafé app and website, along with many other online payment systems. It allows parents to add funds to their child’s lunch account, so the student can easily and quickly pay for school meals. When a student’s balance reaches a certain level, parents can opt to automatically draft funds from a debit/credit card into their student’s account. If the student is graduating, transferring schools, etc.- it’s best for parents to disable this feature. This allows them to receive a refund without further withdrawals.

7. Plan and publish your menus for the upcoming school year.

Are you excited to try out new recipes with your students next year? Or maybe you just have a couple ideas? Why not conduct taste tests for your summer staff? Once you’ve found a hit, get ahead of the game. Start planning and publishing your menus now to make back to school a breeze. Don’t forget to take pictures of your menu items to improve your program’s marketing efforts. Struggling to take enticing photos? Check out this blog written by professional photographer, Megan Bolyard.

Even more, with one click in PrimeroEdge, instantly publish your menus, nutritional information, and photographs to SchoolCafé. Use SchoolCafé to review the layout of your menu items in a flash. Once serving begins, don’t forget to sign into SchoolCafé and check on your menu items’ performance through ratings and favorites, straight from your students.

8. Turn off automatic online application processing.

Most districts prefer to not deal with the hassle of accepting free and reduced applications year round, even if they are online. It is common to set a date to close applications for the school year and reopen them at a later, predetermined date in the summer. Ideal times to start accepting applications again are during new student conferences, transfer student orientations, or meet-the-teacher events.

If your district is using Classic Online Applications within PrimeroEdge, you can change the first and last day to accept online applications within System Settings.

Is your district looking for a more efficient way to process online applications? PrimeroEdge actually just released the next generation of online applications- SchoolCafé Eligibility. Now, your SchoolCafé app and website encompasses nutrition, payments, and eligibility processing. Along with Classic Online Applications, SchoolCafé allows you to change the dates to accept online applications as well.

These are eight useful tips to help your school nutrition program become summer-ready. By no means is this an all-encompassing list. Looking for more details specific to PrimeroEdge when it comes to getting ready for summer? Please refer to this document for information.

Does your district have a summer prep practice I missed? Share it with us in the comments below!