STREAMLINING MEAL COUNTING AND PRODUCTION
The school year has started and so has the seemingly insurmountable task of making sure the meal program is in compliance!
Compliance can come in many forms, since every school and district’s meal programs are so different from one another. There are some crucial records that must be maintained in order to show true compliance in that area.
You must record the students/meals you serve each day. Whether you manually track meals on rosters, in a spreadsheet or in a Point of Sale software, you must track the number of meals you serve. If you are a non-special provision site, you must track meals by eligibility type (free, reduced or paid). This is how you report your meal counts to the state each month in order to receive reimbursement.
You must track and record the amount of food that was served. This data is tracked on “production records.” Production records are important because this is how you (and your auditor!) can see if enough food was served to account for the number of reimbursable meals you are claiming that month. Not only are these important records for compliance reasons, production records can also help you kitchen control inventory and leftovers. If you have a food vendor or another school or district vending meals to you, they should be providing the production records for you. Be sure to review these records to make sure they include all of the menu items for that day’s menu.
Historical data from your production records can help you forecast your orders so that you don’t over- or under-order and to see which food items are least popular with your student population (the key is here is look at low participation days and determining if this was because the food item was not well-liked, if there was a field trip where many students were not on campus that day, etc).
It is important to note that meal counts and production records should be completed daily. While this is not a hard and fast requirement, it is a strong recommendation. Completing these records daily can help ensure accuracy and also lift the burden of trying to catch up on entering meal counts or production data at the end of the month so that the monthly reimbursement claim can be submitted.
If you or your school are having challenges maintaining the proper records or are looking for support to get your meal program in compliance, feel free to reach out to our team to see how we can help your meal program!