The Londonderry School District in New Hampshire educates more than 3,800 students across five schools. On Sunday, March 15, 2020, Governor, Chris Sununu mandated a move to remote learning to help curb the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). It was a bold decision intended to protect the community. While the district was prepared to institute a remote learning model, they had to quickly figure out another important piece—ensuring that children who needed school-offered meals could receive them.
‘Uber Eats’ for School Lunch
Enter Amanda Venezia, Director of Dining Services, and her team at the Londonderry School District. Amanda had a vision for what she calls the “Uber Eats of school lunches,” where families can pre-order meals—both breakfast and lunch—and have them delivered to a desired location. But she needed technology to enable this functionality. Amanda was on the phone with executives from Nutrislice, the leader in helping foodservice operators provide a digital guest experience, when she received information that the company was offering its Digital Ordering and Meal Locator solutions for free to K-12 schools. Following the call with Nutrislice executives on Monday, Amanda onboarded the technology on Tuesday and sent out a district wide email that same day notifying schools of the service. By early Wednesday morning, her team was taking orders and delivering meals to kids throughout the district. Families can order meals on Monday for the first two days of the week. They will order again on Wednesday for meals the rest of the week. Both breakfast and lunch are offered and delivered directly onto doorsteps and to hungry children throughout the district. “The Nutrislice software is so easy to use, after getting access I quickly had it up and running. All I had to do was create a modified ordering menu, practice ordering a couple of meals and communicate the offering to the public” praised Amanda.
Approximately 400 meals were delivered on the first day by using the Nutrislice solution. This represents nearly half of all meals that were provided to kids (the district also offers pick up service). In the two hours after offering the digital pre-service, the Londonderry School District almost doubled the number of meals served compared to Monday’s pickup-only numbers. This type of increase is important in two ways: 1) it ensures more kids have access to healthy meals and 2) it helps the district recoup some of the revenue lost from kids not physically coming to school and eating lunch. Amanda’s team is also particularly proud of its ability to serve those that are helping make the community safe during this pandemic. Many of those meals are for the children of emergency service employees. “When you are a healthcare professional or first responder working 90 hours per week, it’s a great relief knowing someone is helping feed your child. We are thrilled to play a small part in providing that sense of comfort to people who are doing so much for the community at this difficult time,” said Amanda. Amanda has also heard from other parents that providing the meals gives their children a sense of continuity and normalcy as they struggle with not attending school. It also lets parents see and appreciate what their children are eating everyday while they are in school.
Christy M., the mother of Londonderry School District children, shared “I had a feeling the lunch delivery from school would bring some normalcy for the kids. They are SO EXCITED. Gretchen was happy because it’s the same chocolate muffin that she always buys at school. The four of them keep saying, we eat this at school! Yay. I love when we eat these at school!”
Amanda’s team will continue to make meals every day and promote the availability of the digital ordering functionality. She expects families to increase usage, especially as parents go back to work, which is expected to bring in more revenue to mitigate the drain on her financial reserves.