With school canteens struggling to return a profit, attract volunteers and implement healthier menus, they have become one of the biggest headaches for P&Cs at many schools. To stem the wave of canteen closures and to support member P&Cs, Council began its canteen improvement project in November last year.
The project covers canteen advice services, signing P&Cs up to a procurement agency to get reduced prices on produce (plus stationery and many other items) and the free set-up of the Flexischools online ordering system in canteens.
Enjoying the savings
More than a dozen schools are already enjoying savings through the NSWBuy procurement agent, but the opportunity exists for many more P&Cs to save. At Council's office, we have found several stationery items on NSWBuy for less than half the cost of the local office supplier and we urge all P&Cs to contact us for an application form.
Loving the convenience
So far, around 30 schools have taken up the opportunity to set up the Flexischools online ordering system cost free, with 20 already live and collecting orders. At Neville Bonner Primary School, the system has transformed the way the canteen works.
"We love it," said Pheobe Klinkert, P&C President at the school. "It saves us a lot of time."
"Last year we were using paper bags. It was a nightmare. Sorting out missing information – such as which class the order was from – took up a lot of our time."
"Now almost all of our orders come in online. The system in great. You plug it in, push go and it just works. Five minutes later we have the orders, by class, and a summary sheet with all the details so that we can get into actually making the food straight away," she said.
"We have had amazing feedback from parents too. They can't believe how easy it is to order."
The P&C also found Flexischools useful for organising for the school disco.
"It worked well. Parents paid online and then we printed out the list of people who had paid and this was our sign-in sheet for the night," said Ms Klinkert.
The deadline for setting up the on-line ordering system, payed by Council, has been extended to December this year. P&Cs wishing to find out more should call Flexischools on 1300 361 769 or contact Council.
Find out more about how we can help your canteen in our Canteen Support section.
This article appeared in ParentACTion, Term 3, 2014. See other past editions of our quarterly magazine.