BWCET Case Study – Digital menus for school canteens

26 April 2022
This case study looks at the complexity and risks of providing food to students. Multiple schools in varying locations need on-site kitchens that would benefit from a centralised recipe and menu management tool to track costs, waste and allergens. Digital menus for school canteens will allow kitchens to update live menus and receive orders ahead of time chosen by parents, carers or students that can easily filter options.
 
The Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust (BWCET) is a school trust comprising over 20 schools throughout the North East in England. This many schools to manage is complicated, and when it comes to school meals, providing a menu that can suit every child taking into account a growing list of over 14 allergens, requires no room for error.
 

Creating safe food for digital menus

The canteen chef can create recipes by entering ingredients and quantities. The ingredients used can either use the Kafoodle library, be entered manually, or be pulled diretly from the suppliers database.
 
Once created, the recipe auto-creates a data sheet that includes all the nutritional and allergen facts and labelling compliant with Natashas Law.
 
This way, the BWCET can create a canteen menu with options that would suit all the allergen and nutritional requirements. Unique requests can easily be accommodated by replacing or removing the ingredients.
 

Finding safe food with digital menus

 
Food allergies and intolerances that affect children have consistently been on the rise. Many of these new allergies are caused by ingredients not listed in the 14 allergens required by law to report.
 
New developing allergies and intolerances means having a system that can report on allergens reliably and update as new allergies develop is quickly becoming necessary when lives and well being are at risk.
 
Nutritional requirements and preferences, including taste, mean that listed allergies are no longer be enough to make an informed decision. Complete transparency and visibility of ingredients allow meal choosers to view a recipe as if it were an ingredients label, like those found on food packaging.
 

Chef searching

 
Once recipes are created, Kafoodle will provide all the nutritional and allergen information per serving. An advanced filtering system allows kitchen staff to exclude and include ingredients to create a multi-level conditional filter. The filter will even search composite items, not only top-tier ingredients. For example, it can display all recipes that do not contain gluten or nuts but must have a high fibre content.
 

Parent, carer and pupil searching

 
The introduction of the digital menu means that the pupils and their parents or carers of BWCET schools can view the canteen menu digitally. Allowing users to add a filter for lifestyle and religious dietary requirements, nutritional data, allergens and specific ingredients.
 

Fair & indiscriminate food availability

It is important to the BWCET that every child has access to the same menu options. This way, the child doesn’t feel different and can fit into regular lunchtime routines.
 
The chef also benefits from the kitchen system. He can identify ingredients in unsuitable recipes and decide whether they should replace or remove the ingredients, so it is safe for consumption.

Benefits of the BWCET going digital

 

Reduces complexity of the ordering process

Ordering can be done in advance so that the pupil knows what they will eat and the school can order correct volumes.
 

Reduce food waste

Forecast food requirements allow more cost-efficient ordering and prevent the wastage of ingredients, especially fresh food. Also, the pupil or parent and carer have chosen a dish they know they will like, reducing the likelihood of it being left and thrown away.
 

Increase time efficiency

The previous system was manual and required the chef to create extra tailor-made meals to fit allergen and nutritional requirements. Now the menu is built to suit all needs, and recipes can be altered to suit unique requests.
 

The Results

The new system has received fantastic feedback from kitchen staff and families who have used the new digital menu system installed by Kafoodle. The safety tech accelerator collected the quotes below.
 
“Since the school started using Kafoodle, creating a menu takes a lot less time and it’s a much smoother process. The recipes are so easy to put together and the nutritional values and costs are vital information for the school and parents. The interactive menus and the ability to filter gives parents peace of mind if pupils have any allergies or likes/dislikes for certain foods. Being a web based system is also a huge positive for a multi-site business like ourselves”
 
Luca Tomassetti, Catering Manager, BWCET.
 
“…my son has several ‘dislikes’ which he claims are intolerances, but it helps to filter out things that may cause a fuss and direct him which options to choose”
 
“I wasn’t quite clear at first on how to interpret the results. I thought that dishes with the excluded allergens would not show up, but realised that they instead have ‘allergens’ highlighted in red. On reflection, I like this feature because it gives the user a chance to then talk to the staff about whether the dish could be adapted to exclude the allergen…”
 
Parents’ feedback.