According to a leading school nutrition expert, every school district faces five key challenges when it comes to foodservice. Those challenges are food, finance, facilities, human resources, and marketing. Of these five, though, one seems to be more and more critical for school districts across the Pacific Northwest:
How to find employees, train them, and keep them on staff.
The reality is, all of foodservice is facing challenging times when it comes to staffing, and because the industry at large can generally pay more than school districts, it becomes even more challenging for K-12 operations to hire, train, and retain great employees.
As a result, there's been a greater push on the equipment side in recent years to help compensate for these challenges. Automation is becoming more common in our industry, and foodservice equipment as a whole is becoming easier to operate.
What are the best ways to overcome labor challenges in schools?
DEVELOP PLANS FOR FINDING AND HIRING GREAT EMPLOYEES.
This can mean many things, but when schools face wage challenges that aren't as competitive as what the rest of the foodservice industry can afford, there has to be a focus on what makes school nutrition different than other options. A few things to consider are developing the overall culture of the district, and even though wages might be harder to provide, the great hours are not.
As we mentioned, equipment that is automated and easy to use can be a big benefit when school districts hire and train new employees. If turnover is an issue, processes need to be as simple as possible so new workers can step in and perform high-level functions as quickly as possible. Whether it's the equipment interfaces themselves, or an overall process system, technology can make knowledge transfer more efficient when new employees are hired.
CREATE A GREAT WORK SPACE.
One of the best ways to attract new talent is to create a work space that is modern and comfortable. This means ambient temperatures and working conditions should be ideal, equipment should be up-to-date and operable, and the overall culture of the district should reflect an appealing place to work. Happy places create happy faces (and visa versa).
GET HELP WHEN IT'S AVAILABLE.
School nutrition directors have enough to deal with -- maintaining or increasing participation levels, following safety procedures, and making sure schools are compliant with nutritional regulations, to name a few. When it comes to things like the latest equipment technologies, it can be hard to stay on top of all the changes. That's why it can be a good idea for school nutrition programs to get help when it's available.
At Pro-Pacific, we offer a free school foodservice equipment assessment and will work with you to find specific solutions to your challenges. From a practical standpoint, this means you can rely on solutions that won't do more than what you're looking for or do less than what you need.