SNA’s Back To School 2021 Report was published this past month, and it was extremely eye-opening. Nearly half (48%) of districts surveyed reported a net loss in financial revenue, and another 20% still weren’t sure if they were going to experience financial losses.
Districts all over the country have been hurting and may continue to hurt as they go into the next school year. Even though CDC recommendations state that districts can return to in-person learning safely, the ramifications from this past school year won’t be resolved overnight – or at all unless districts start to think of ways to make up for their losses.
From what we’ve seen, there are two main methods for districts to recover revenue, they can either aim to reduce unpaid meal debts and/or look for new streams of revenue. Here’s how:
Reduce Unpaid Meal Debts
Consider Switching to CEP
In the past, your district may not have qualified to adopt CEP. However, as the US employment rate continues to sit at an all-time low, the number of areas considered to be low-income may increase – thus making it possible for your district (or parts of your district) to qualify.
You might be wondering – how will serving under CEP change things around? According to SNA’s BTS report, nearly 85% of districts that participated in CEP reported an increase in meal participation, and 80% reported a decrease in unpaid meal charges/debt.
Continue Utilizing COVID-19 Waivers For As Long As Possible
Nearly all districts in SNA’s report reported that they utilized COVID-19 waivers in order to serve all students meals at no cost. This not only helped students get nutritious meals – but this helped districts from complete and total loss. In fact, 67% of districts reported that meal participation increased after utilizing waivers, and 77% reported that unpaid meal charges/debt decreased.
Of course, waivers aren’t forever, so utilize them for as long as possible.
Get Creative With Your Revenue Streams
Keep Pushing A La Carte Options
Utilizing COVID-19 waivers and adopting CEP doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stop serving a la carte. In fact, as long as your a la carte options are Smart Snack Compliant, you should be able to continue serving a la carte items.
Implement a Catering Program
Looking for a way to generate revenue without your typical K12 restrictions? Start a catering program! Offering catering to community members both within and outside your district is a great way to generate revenue without restrictions found in NSLP/SBP. Not only does this help you put money back into your program, but it’s a great way to increase community engagement and relationships. To learn more about the benefits of catering, check out our upcoming webinar “Serving Up Solutions, Catering Style!”, Wednesday, July 22nd at 1:30 PM CDT.
While it’s not a one-size-fits-all for school districts, these are just a few of the ways that you can get out of the “red” in this coming school year. Happy revenue recovering!