Why it’s important to market your catering service
- Published 26th Sep 20
- Categories Blog
Why it’s important to market your catering service
Since lockdown in March, many schools have seen a decline in income from their catering services. As schools continued to open their service to key worker, vulnerable children and school staff, as well as deliver food parcels or purchase food vouchers; this was done without a return through paid meals. Now, with pupils back in the classroom, we take a look at what schools can do to regain sales and encourage new uptake of their catering.
Regain parents’ trust in the service
As pupils have slowly started to return, some schools have reported a lower than normal uptake in lunches as many parents and pupils have concerns over coronavirus transmission. This, coupled with recent outbreaks of Covid 19 in a number of food factories throughout the UK, means that we will have to regain the trust of parents to get their children to take up a school meal.
Schools and academies will need to reassure parents through newsletters and other communication systems, the steps that are being taken in school catering departments to keep pupils safe from coronavirus. It may also be necessary to educate parents that the virus is not transmitted via food and only passed through human contact. The Food Standards Authority has published advice for consumers that is available through their website.
At CMC, we have supported our client schools with additional risk assessments and guidelines for the food service on full return and we encourage our schools to inform parents of these measures, so that they can alleviate some of the worries that parents have about their children reintegrating into school life.
Revamping the service
The current social distancing measures in place have meant that most schools have had to adapt their service provision. The menu offer has been reduced often to a cold, packed lunch provision but some have continued to deliver a hot meal in the form of a grab and go style offer. When considering what type of provision to offer think what you can achieve safely. Sandwiches may seem the easiest option but schools need to be aware that the Government guidance Providing school meals during the coronavirus outbreak, states that school meals must still follow the School food standards. Many of our CMC schools have taken our healthy TUBS range which is easily delivered out to classrooms in disposable pots.
Now is a great time to look at how these new options have been received, whether pupils were receptive to them and could they be included in the new provision. The views of pupils and parents should be actively sought, so that menus can be adapted to meet their requirements. Whatever the food offer is, it will still need to offer value for money.
There has never been a better time to look at what we do in school meals and ask ourselves what we could do to improve the service to encourage an uptake in lunches.
Free school meals from September
There is an expectation that there will be an increase in children eligible for free school meals over the next school year. This can be a profitable market for schools, as not only does it ensure a regular income into the catering service but also provides pupil premium money that is valuable throughout the school.
The free school meal has been given a huge boost during the pandemic due to the outcry from schools and public figures that those most in need were at risk of losing what could be their only daily meal.
The England footballer, Marcus Rashford has ensured that free school meals have remained in the public eye with his pressure on the government to overturn their decision not to supply free meal vouchers over the summer holidays. But Rashford’s involvement hasn’t only been beneficial in ensuring a meal is available, it has also allowed for free meals to lose some of their stigma among the general public. Marcus Rashford had free meals when he was at school and then went on to have a great footballing career, shouldn’t we be encouraging our pupils to do the same?
Schools need to seize this opportunity and look at how they deliver their free school meals, changing any methods that inhibit children to take them up and instead creating an ethos of Marcus did it, me too!
- inform parents and pupils what your catering is doing to be Covid safe
- keep pupils and parents informed through newsletters, school website, text messaging services, electronic boards and flyers
- assess your current offer and delivery, how could it be improved?
- ask for feedback from pupils and parents and use this to inform any changes
- consider new trends inline with high street competitors
- promote free school meal uptake informing parents and pupils of what you do in school to prevent any stigma being attached
- consider keeping pupils in school at break times
Need help with marketing your service?
CMC can offer you advice and support on all aspects of your catering service.
Contact us today to see how we can help you.