/ Ed Reed, Mayoral Photography Office

Digital Pre-Ordering: Explained

With back to school upon us and our commitment to maintaining the safety of our students, districts are heavily relying on technology to help them uphold the sanitary standards of our new normal. As a result of the state of our community, there has been a noticeable rise in popularity for digital pre-ordering and for good reason.

Digital pre-ordering allows districts the ability to view and place orders from their own mobile devices. There is no need to ever step foot in a cafeteria any longer—social distancing at it’s finest! Students, parents, teachers, and staff can view menus, order meals, and receive meals in a quick and efficient manner. 

So the question isn’t whether to get online ordering or not. The question you should be asking is, “How do I apply digital pre-ordering to my district and my situation?”

Let’s break it down to a few easy steps.

Step 1: Choose Your Sites

First thing’s first. Ask yourself, “What sites will need digital pre-ordering?” Maybe you are thinking of converting all your sites, K through 12, to an online ordering solution. However, that might not be the best for your situation. Maybe you’re thinking, ‘I am not quite sure I want our elementary schools to have that capability yet,’ but then as yourself why. If your concern is giving elementary students the ability to place orders, SchoolCafe’s Digital Pre-Ordering tool can restrict who can place online orders. There is no need to deny your elementary sites of this online ordering solution as long as you configure the tool to your needs. Talk through it with your PrimeroEdge Success Mentor and they will be able to guide you as needed. Choosing your sites is the foundation of it all, and once you’ve got that down, you can move on to the next steps. 

Step 2: Meal Types

Once you’ve chosen what sites you’d want, it’s time to move on to the meal types you want to offer and have available to order online. Think about what meals you’d want to get recorded in a quick and efficient manner. For many schools, serving a lunch meal is a no brainer so let’s start with that. Breakfast, snacks and dinner are additional meal type options for online ordering but aren’t always a necessity for all districts. Take a look at your current or past process and decide whether it’s beneficial to have other meal types as options. You might also want to consider starting off with just Breakfast and Lunch meals, and just a few options for each, before adding any a la carte items. Once you get the hang of your new process you can always go back and add new menu items later.

Step 3: Fulfillment

So you’ve chosen your sites and the meal types you want to serve. Can you guess what’s next? Fulfillment! Where will your students receive their meals? The fulfillment step is where you really need to take a step back and analyze your situation. With SchoolCafe’s Digital Pre-Ordering solution, districts have the ability to mark several different fulfillment options for your ordering sites. From serving in the classroom to assigning designated zones within your site, districts have the capability of assigning fulfillment options that better fit your school opening plans, and can be as flexible as you need them to be. Here’s a quick scenario for you: District A wants to serve meals outside of the cafeteria but still allows students the flexibility to choose the meal options they want for lunch. Our Digital Pre-Ordering tool not only allows students that freedom, but makes it easy for you to receive, label and batch orders to where they need to go–whether it be in the gym, band hall or a multipurpose room. 

Digital Pre-Ordering is not rocket science but it does require a bit of planning beforehand. Technology is there to serve us and help fill a need that enhances our procedures in an efficient manner. So while it may be daunting to implement a new tool with all the chaos around us, think of the end goal and know that your goal to serve nutritious meals is only a click away. This tool was designed to make ordering and serving meals as simple as possible. Step back, break your process down into steps to prevent getting overwhelmed,and you’ll be up and running in no time!