There’s something special about October that brings on a feeling of comfort and excitement for the holiday season ahead. Despite what is happening in the world around us, we have many things to look forward to this month, including National School Lunch Week, and of course, Halloween!

However, many of you in K-12 foodservice are still scrambling behind the scenes and somewhat (ok, maybe a lot?) stressed with continually figuring out new operations, incorporating safety precautions and dealing with the ever-changing nature of this pandemic. But, I’m optimistic that this time will also bring forth unexpected rewards.

Since the Spring, I’ve witnessed people come together in this industry like never before. Close-knit peer groups like TIPS For School Meals That Rock -- a Facebook social group for K-12 FSDs looking for new ideas, support and camaraderie -- are always willing to lend an ear. Technology in foodservice has also taken a giant leap forward during this time. With our new tools and technologies, your operations can become more efficient, effective, and flexible within just a few days! There are a handful of other peer groups out there to connect with, online resources galore and some fun activities coming up to participate in.

So take a deep breath of that Fall air and read on to learn about a couple ways to enjoy this season.

National School Lunch Week

Next week, you have a chance to re-engage your community and increase breakfast and lunch program participation by celebrating National School Lunch Week (NSLW), which runs from October 12-16. President John F. Kennedy created NSLW in 1962 “to promote the importance of a healthy school lunch in a child’s life and the impact it has inside and outside of the classroom.”

During this annual weeklong celebration, School Nutrition Association is offering a myriad of creative tools and activities to help you put a spotlight back on the importance of school lunch. On their site, you can find downloadable artwork, social media tips (make sure to use #NSLW2020 with your posts), and promotion kits to help you have a successful celebration.

Making school lunch fun for students and their families will hopefully go a long way in helping to increase student participation and providing families information on all of the healthy food that schools can and are providing for students. NSLW can also be a great way to boost employee morale and remind everyone of the singular objective of serving students healthy meals. Putting a smile on a child's face is a natural mood boost that can eliminate the craziness of COVID-19.

Get Your Ordering On!

In addition to celebrating moments in time like NSLW, now’s the time to think about what the future holds for your operations. History has taught us that when things change, they typically never go back to exactly “the way things were.” We progress and move forward; we transform and improve upon how we used to do things. I predict that we’ll see this same kind of progression in school lunch operations.

Although the foodservice industry was already starting to move in the direction of incorporating technologies -- like mobile ordering -- and practices that have proved successful for restaurants, it’s safe to say that this pandemic has pushed us all forward faster than we were prepared for. Yet, it has quickly become apparent that in order to not only be successful right now, but in the future, foodservice operations in K-12 can greatly benefit from all that contactless solutions have to offer.

For example, whether serving full time onsite, accommodating alternate day attendance or still operating service for fully remote districts, there are many ways that mobile ordering can help. With mobile ordering, you can increase participation, drive sales, streamline your operations and give your customers a digital experience they are already akin to with restaurants.

We recently published a post to provide you inspiration with creative ways to grow revenue with mobile food ordering. Ideas such as nutrition breaks, meal kits and grocery boxes, a la carte super sized and group orders, and limited time offers -- all enabled and simplified with mobile ordering -- are easy to implement and can go a long way in ushering in additional revenue.

With our mobile ordering solution, you can offer customization with more personalized meals, nutrition information and menu items, as well as improve operational efficiency with convenient order-ahead options. Just come get a demo and see what’s possible!

Be Nimble, Be Flexible

I’m sure it goes without saying, but we all must remain nimble and flexible during this time. Having the right technologies in place can make that effort far easier for you while at the same time, connecting parents, students and staff back to the things that matter most -- a sense of normalcy, fun, laughter, and good health (which is largely made possible by eating healthy and delicious food!).

October is here with all the comfort that Fall has to offer (as well as the candy I’m personally looking forward to on Halloween). And, help is always right at your fingertips. You’ve got this!