The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) is rolling out a new program called SchoolCafé that will make it easier for parents to monitor and pay for their child's school meals online and through a mobile application. The program, which is run using PrimeroEdge school nutrition food service software, will also help cafeterias track their inventory, make purchases and reduce costs.
"The Department has spent the last two years working on bringing our food service management system into the 21st century," said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. "This new software will allow us to streamline the experience and process for parents as well as our cafeteria staff who will be able to anticipate their inventory needs with more precision, which will help reduce costs in the long run."
A pilot program for SchoolCafé started on Jan. 9, 2017 with schools in the Castle, Kahuku, Kailua, Kalaheo, Kaiser and Kalani complexes. The rest of the schools started transitioning in February, and all 256 campuses will be online and using the software by April 3.
The new system provides a number of features for parents including online payments, creating auto-payments, checking account balances, setting up low balance alerts and is accessible online or through a mobile application for iPhones, Android and Windows phones. A 5 percent convenience fee will be charged for payments made online and through the mobile application. Parents still have the option of paying with cash or check at their child's school at no charge and can use SchoolCafé to check their balance.
Schools will be able to keep track of production records and can make purchases through a centralized ordering portal. Inventory will be tracked electronically, from previous purchases to pending orders. This is a change from the previous manual 5x7 index card system that schools were using for their food service programs.
"The cost savings from implementing the new program based on annual software expenses alone will be around $100,000," shared Assistant Superintendent Dann Carlson. "This is one less expense that schools will have to worry about since the Department will cover the cost of the software annually for all 256 public schools."
The PrimeroEdge software cost HIDOE $870,000 and includes 18-months of service, installation and staff training. The annual cost after the 18-months will be $350,000, which will be paid for by the Department.
A letter from HIDOE's School Food Services Branch will be distributed next week notifying parents about this new system and where they can get more information.