Lunchtime is often considered crunch time for school food service staff - for more reasons than one! Serving meals quickly and efficiently, while also making sure students have time to eat, can be a challenge for many schools. That's why any feature or method that can help speed up your serving lines, even by a few seconds, can be monumental.
One school district in Northern California found that simply using audio messages at their Point of Sale stations helped to increase their line speed and satisfaction among the students.
How does it work?
After a student enters their pin number, speakers on the POS terminals play simple audio messages to indicate if the transaction is complete or if further assistance may be needed. There are two main messages that can be played:
- "Thank You"
When a student has sufficient funds and doesn't owe anything on their account, the POS system will automatically complete the transaction and say "Thank You". This indicates to both the student and the cashier that the sale was completed and the student can move on.
- "Please Wait"
If a student does not have sufficient funds or has another alert on their account, they will hear "Please Wait" and the POS system will stop the transaction. At this point, the cashier will need to step in to collect the money or address an allergy alert and then manually complete the transaction. Once the transaction closes, the cycle continues and the next student comes in.
By utilizing this audio feature in Mosaic Point of Sale, cashiers are able to help serve meals, stock items, and perform other tasks all while students are moving through the serving line. Since many transactions are automatically closed with a simple 'Thank You', the cashier only needs to jump in when additional action is required.
While this district has been utilizing this feature for many years, it became especially important when the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) increased its nationwide availability in the 2015-16 school year. With CEP, their meal participation increased by over 20%! This audio feature kept their lines so efficient that, even with the roughly 15,000 new students participating, they did not need to hire new staff, adjust meal period times, or increase the number of lines. And, they experienced no slowdowns or negative feedback from the students!
It's always exciting to see how nutrition programs are using technology to help make their programs more efficient. These audio messages are a unique solution that played a pivotal role in helping students move through lines quickly. Although this feature met USDA standards, it's important to always verify operational changes adhere to all federal, state, and local regulations.