28th October 2022
School caterers cannot control food inflation, but with the right digital technologies, they can certainly reduce the burden, writes Dawn Pollard, MD (Cashless) at Civica
The impact of surging food prices has been a near constant focus of our public discourse over recent months. With soaring energy bills having the potential to consume up to eight per cent of their entire budget and teacher wages set to increase by six per cent, school caterers around the country are already feeling the pinch. Food price inflation is an unavoidable reality and school caterers are facing some really tough decisions about how they’ll continue delivering safe and nutritious meals to pupils and support their educational attainment. This challenge is set to become even greater, with Universal Free School Meals (UFSM) now rolling out across Wales and soon to be in Scotland.
School caterers cannot control food inflation, but with the right digital technologies, they can certainly reduce the burden. Catering software allows school catering managers to make smarter, more informed decisions, ensuring every pound – and every crumb – count. Take for example sales data, from your EPOS, pre-ordering, or cashless system. By knowing exactly which menu options are popular and which are more likely to end up as food waste, caterers can plan ahead, order precisely the amount of ingredients required and ensure that less and less food is ending up in the bin, reducing their environmental footprint in the process.
With the price and availability of certain foodstuffs likely to become more volatile in the current climate, school caterers will need to be able to adapt menus and find alternative suppliers at short notice. Again, this is where digital solutions can ease the pressure for caterers, enabling them to switch to more affordable or more readily available options, or switch from scarce products if they become more expensive.
Our schools are on the front line of a burgeoning cost-of-living crisis which shows no signs of letting up any time soon. With the right technologies, school leaders and school caterers can minimise the impact for pupils and parents and deliver the best outcomes in very challenging circumstances.
Find out more at civica.com/education.