KASB BOLD class explores school food service management

Most schools across Kansas run the largest restaurant in town, and that makes the challenges of rising costs, staff shortages and the all important “what’s for lunch” question top priorities for school administrators. KASB’s BOLD class focused part of its two-day session this week on food service management.

Aided by KASB Prestigious Partner Opaa! Food Service Management, BOLD class members reviewed requirements of Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, the federal law that funds child nutrition programs and free lunch programs in schools, and how these regulations translate to a local school food service operation.  

The Business Operations Leadership Development (BOLD) session was held at Goddard USD 265. The program operated by KASB Leadership Services focuses on developing knowledge on building and facilities master planning, technology planning, finance strategies, procurement processes, school security, risk management and human resources. 

Steve Adams and Jack Koehn from Opaa! are both retired school superintendents from Kansas and have years of experience in all phases of school operations. They led the class through a series of scenarios to illustrate the challenges of managing an efficient operation that is as close to self-supporting as possible. 

Koehn pointed out that schools use data in every other area to make decisions, so why not food service? He illustrated how to uncover key data points, such as the meals served per labor hour. 

“The goal is not about making money,” Adams said, “but a well-managed program can help keep the district from having to supplement the program with funds that could be used to support other needs.” 

Most Kansas schools operate their own food service program. New regulations, such as requiring districts to have a food service manager who meets the highly-qualified critieria, staffing shortages and the rising food costs make the school food service program a challenge to operate efficiently.  

The key to a successful program is a skilled director who can manage costs and staffing, understands compliance issues while providing nutritious meals that fuel kids for success, Adams said. 

More and more districts are looking for answers and options, and of the 59 districts that use a management company, Opaa! works with 55 of them. There are many reasons why contracting for this service makes sense, but it isn’t the right answer for every district.  

BOLD class members were encouraged to review their data and work with their board, staff students and community to find better solutions. BOLD includes six day-long training sessions that were developed by KASB leadership staff, KASB partners and experts from across the state.

See pictures from this week’s BOLD session and learn more here.

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