Are You Ready to Serve All of Your Students Under the SSO?

5 Questions School Administrators Should Ask to Make Sure Districts Are Operating in Compliance This Fall

Posted on August 10, 2021


The USDA recently extended waivers, including the option for schools to offer free meals to all students through the 2021-22 school year. While this has many districts excited about the expanded access to meals, it also brings a variety of new challenges for some.

According to Food Management Magazine, “The School Nutrition Association (SNA) Back to School 2021 Survey of 1,368 school meal program directors nationwide reveals serious financial, regulatory and operational challenges for the upcoming school year.”

  • 82% are concerned about low meal participation
  • 90% worry about staff shortages
  • 86% ranked financial sustainability of school meal programs as a concern

As if operating a school meal program that doesn’t lose money isn’t hard enough, the SSO will further compound the challenges of operating a school meal program, especially if your facility is not equipped to handle it.


These Are The 5 Questions to Ask Yourself to Make Sure You Are Operating in Compliance this Fall

  1. Space & Capacity: Can your facility handle serving 2-3X more students? Are you prepared to implement additional pop-up serving lines or points of service in the cafeteria or elsewhere?

    If not, this means you’ll experience longer lines, and the need for added seating capacity, potentially while socially distanced – do you have the space?
  2. Serving Strategy: Can your serving lines handle this increased volume to get students through the line and allow them to eat their meal within their allotted lunch hour?

    Most districts are accustomed to serving about 50% of students on a daily basis.
  3. Equipment Capacity: Could your facility double their storage capacity if suppliers delivered the appropriate amount of food to serve the influx in participating students?

    Most facilities have enough space to store 1-2 weeks’ worth of inventory under normal meal participation rates. Do you have space or budget for new equipment if necessary?
  4. Staffing Your Café: Will you be able to find and train the best new staff members to bring meal preparation back to your facility, with the added volume of meals served?

    And can your facility accommodate that many more staff members in the kitchen?
  5. Operating In Compliance: Do you have the time and expertise to make this program operate within compliance so you don’t forfeit your reimbursements?

    This is more than just a P&L – there are strict regulatory compliance operating standards and tracking requirements.



Whitsons Partners with Districts to Keep School Nutrition Programs Viable

“At Whitsons, we are prepared to provide our school district partners with a wide variety of new programs for the upcoming school year,” said Kelly Friend, Chief Operating Officer, Contract Management. “Our goal is to support the communities that we serve by providing nutritious and delicious school meals to all students in new and innovative ways,” continued Friend.

Whitsons partners with school districts by providing groundbreaking school nutrition programs for their community. We have the tools and resources to increase meal participation and give all students the fuel they need to succeed at school

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