SNA hosted a record number of industry members at the 2013 Annual Patron Meeting, held near their headquarters in National Harbor, MD. Our Director of Product & Business Development, Gabe Aiello, was in attendance. The presenters and large district director participants provided extremely important information and feedback to members regarding industry trends and projections. Gabe was able some time during the “mega issue” discussion with some of our technology company competitors and compare notes in an atmosphere where all of us were united, if only temporarily, by our common purpose and passion to serve the school nutrition community.
We all share the challenges of assisting our customers with software that meets new regulations while trying to be responsive to new feature requests at the same time. In particular we found that differing state agency requirements, on top of the USDA requirements, put an added burden on food, equipment, and technology systems providers alike. We hope you can be patient with us, as we are all in the same boat, fighting the same headwinds.
The new meal pattern challenges, including student acceptability of menu changes, maintaining participation, developing menus to meet the requirements and managing food costs are top on industry participants’ to-do lists, for developing solutions for their customers. To that end PCS is providing new software and hardware to assist with fast growing breakfast programs, as well as new features for accurate processing of direct certification and community eligibility. Our TrakNOW software has all of the approvals necessary to assist with meeting the new requirements and reporting needed for audits.
The big challenge we would like to work with you, our customers, on is managing increases in food cost. If we put our heads together we can come up with new and better ways to more accurately forecast counts and menu mix, project product usages for bids, and provide cost modeling that will help bring food cost percentage in on target. Please don’t hesitate to share your individual challenges with us, so that we can incorporate your needs and requirements into our product development.
This month we’d like to feature the Beaufort County School District of Beaufort, South Carolina. Beaufort joined the PCS family in August of this year. Beaufort is located on Port Royal Island in the heart of the Sea Islands and Lowcountry. The city of Beaufort is the 2nd oldest city in South Carolina, second only to Charleston. Locations within the school district you may have heard of are Parris Island and Hilton Head Island. The Beaufort County School District is comprised of 32 schools and approximately 20,000 students. The school district partners with Sodexo to meet all of the challenging goals that go along with feeding the children tasty nutritious meals that they look forward to eating. The team is lead by Roberta Peterson from Sodexo and Ginger Weekly from the BCSD. They were recently awarded over $17,500 and a trip to Washington DC to be honored by First Lady Michelle Obama for being the only district in the nation to have every school in their district qualify for the USDA Healthier US Schools Challenge. We are honored to have the team from Beaufort county as part of the PCS family and look forward to many years of partnering for success.
Imagine how your customers would react if your menus included pictures, helpful descriptions, and understandable nutritionals.
Nutrislice Menus are simple and easy to use for districts, and present school foods in a beautiful, intuitive interface. They are the only school menu publishing tool that lets you enter menu information once, and then publishes that menu into multiple communication channels so that parents and students can easily access your menus wherever they are.
Give your patrons a modern, professionally designed experience – regardless of whether they prefer to print your menu and put it on the fridge, use an app on their mobile phone while on the go, dig through details on a website, or subscribe to receive an email with their school’s menu.
Now that year start is well under way, we hope that all of our customers have had a chance to take a step back and evaluate how things are going. As always, we appreciate any feedback that you may have. RightNOW, PayPAMS and TrakNOW support teams put out the maximum effort for school start. In addition, based on customer suggestions, we provided more webinars and video instruction at the PCS-NOW Online Help Center. We hope that you have found these efforts effective.
An increased focus on Quality Assurance and Support Staff training has paid off. We found lower call volumes in general, about 10% less than last year. An increased number of customer questions and problems were quickly resolved during the initial call and fewer calls were waiting for call backs at the end of each day. Therefore, we are nominating as “Support Person of the Month” our whole PCS Support Team as thanks for a great job.
Winston County spurs creation of pre-coded inventory database for new Alabama Customers using TrakNOW Nutrition and Inventory components. Winston County was one of 6 districts in Alabama that came to us at the same time in anticipation of the new regulations.
They had been using our point of sale for quite a while, along with over 80 other districts in Alabama. For back of the house they were still doing everything with pencil and paper. All six of the districts were purchasing from the Alabama state grocery and supply bid through regional distributors. In an effort to expedite training and database set up our TrakNOW Nutrition and Inventory staff created a “template” database using a download of the Alabama State bid items and hand linking the items with the Child Nutrition database, which is included in TrakNOW. The items’ nutrition and measures were defined using CN data, Commodity Fact Sheets, Alabama Ingredient List or manufacturer’s product sheets by the PCS staff. Many standard food based contributions were defined as well. After each district’s review and approval of the database, the template database was used to create their unique TrakNOW database. After training, the districts were able to immediately begin creating recipes and menus. TrakNOW was implemented in these districts in record time, not typically seen in the child nutrition industry, and they were quickly able to comply with the added food based requirements and 6 cents certification compliance.