Do These Things Before Summer Break

As the school year draws to a close, anticipation fills the air, signaling the arrival of long-awaited summer days. For dedicated school nutrition professionals, this is a time of both excitement and the need for careful planning. Let’s cover some essential end-of-year tasks to complete so you can easily transition into summer and enjoy your break with peace of mind.

1. Prevent Waste via an Inventory Assessment

To prevent waste, check if any of your inventory is going to expire over the summer. If so, see if anything can be preserved in the freezer and plan to use those frozen items as soon as school resumes. If not, consider incorporating those items into your menus as soon as possible or use them for any special end-of-year events. You may consider donating items if your  school partners with local food banks or backpack programs.  Having a plan for your expiring ingredients feels especially amazing if it can help others. 

2. Coordinate Orders Ahead of Time

Save yourself time and brain fog when you get back from break by creating a meal plan and coordinating your orders ahead of time. The inventory assessment you completed also ensures that you won’t order anything you already have. Communicating with your suppliers about when regular deliveries resume is a great way to prevent disruption when the new academic year begins. Everyone on the same page about what you receive and when will help you feel ready to hit the ground running.  

3. Review Your Documentation

The school nutrition department does a lot of record keeping, whether it’s financial reports, inventory reconciliation, or documentation regarding compliance. Now is a great time to review anything nagging at the back of your mind, or double-check that nothing has been missed. For example, making sure all your transactions are accounted for, or addressing unpaid invoices. Double checking everything has been properly documented makes everything from audits to inspections easier and helps start the new school year on an organized note.

4. Do A SWOT Analysis

Everything has room for improvement, including your processes. There’s a simple way to think through what’s thriving in your operations versus what needs more development, and what you need to do to prevent any declines in performance or quality. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Gather your team and have an open, constructive conversation. Make sure there’s someone to take notes and a mediator to keep the conversation positive. Be sure to infuse a lot of encouragement and appreciation to develop practical solutions to any challenges, or goals for your teams. 

5. Look Into Professional Training Opportunities

If you’ve got a dedicated staff always eager to learn more, see if there are any workshops, webinars, online courses, or resources that will improve your team’s culinary skills, nutrition knowledge, or food safety practices. Of course, this is only if you’re interested in going the extra mile, but there’s no easier time to refresh yourself on industry trends and best practices when you’ve got some free time and fewer balls to juggle.

Kudos if you’re ahead of the curve and have done these due diligences! If not, we hope knowing your next steps will help you feel confident that your team and cafeterias will be ready to serve students next year. Have an amazing break – you deserve it!