The three big school catering trends for 2020

By Jocelyn Levy | 2nd November 2020 | 3 min read

Last year was a comparatively slow year for school catering innovation, but as we look ahead to the rest of 2020, it’s clear that there are going to be some big changes ahead.

Based on what we’re seeing in schools now, here are our predictions for the biggest school catering trends of 2020.

Biometric cashless is king

More schools than ever will go cashless in 2020. With the meteoric rise of digital banking and money management, cash just doesn’t cut it anymore.

We predict that some schools will look to adopt pre-paid cards. These work very well, but they don’t solve the problem of lost belongings – or, even worse, pupil theft.

That’s why cashless comes into its own when combined with biometrics. This neatly sidesteps the lost card issues while also making it easy to avoid the stigma of free school meals. It’s easy to ensure social inclusion at lunchtime, as all pupils have to do is place their finger on a small scanner – a process that will be exactly the same for both FSM and paying pupils.

However, this approach loses its effectiveness when students are forced to load cash onto their account using wall-mounted machines or tills – which is where our next trend comes into play:

Online payments and preorder

Schools will look to eliminate the need to take cash into schools altogether by enabling parents to pay online and preorder meals. This prevents the risk of theft, loss and bullying caused by loose cash in schools, and simplifies overall administration by removing petty cash from the school.

Even better, parents can have total visibility over their child’s school meals and expenditure, which is especially important for younger pupils in primary schools and children with serious allergies and intolerances. Allergy warnings can even be published using online preorder systems, making it easy to avoid disaster.

Kitchen staff also benefit, as it’s easy to plan how many ingredients they will need and buy accordingly, cutting wastage almost entirely. Queues can even be slashed, as catering teams can prepare grab bags for students ahead of time; all they need to do is walk in and take them.

Reporting and catering data

School meals don’t have to be managed blind anymore. With digital systems, it’s possible to capture data on everything, putting your catering manager in charge of product sales, system usage and student accounts.

This means you can even drill down into data based on year, class, gender or product. Catering managers will be able to easily see what’s popular and what’s not, enabling them to maximise profit and minimise wastage.

Since healthy and vegan options are such a big deal at the moment and meal choices are going through a state of flux, this information is invaluable, as it will enable catering managers to identify the new crowd-pleasers.

All in all, 2020 stands to make the life of the catering manager much, much easier. If you’re interested in seeing what the future has to offer or want to be at the forefront of implementing these trends at your school, you can contact us today to discuss a free demonstration.