September 24, 2009, 8:00 am

TOSHIBA TEC has partnered with MH Systems and HPort to provide a solution that will give a complete analysis of nutritional data for each pupil based on their daily purchases in the school restaurant. The integrated catering system will initially be installed in 44 secondary schools in Essex, allowing the schools to manage menu planning in-line with Government nutritional standards which have been introduced this month.

Recent Government figures show that by the time children reached secondary school, 32.6 per cent of them are either overweight or obese, a figure that has risen by almost one percentage point in a year. In order to combat this dangerous trend, the UK Government has introduced a number of measures in schools. One of which is the guidelines for nutritional standards in menu planning which was first introduced into primary schools in 2008. The guidelines cover 14 specific nutritional values and items such as number of daily portions of fruit and vegetables.

From September 2009 these standards will be extended to cover all secondary schools with the aim that by 2011, all schools should be able to provide detailed reports on pupils’ choices; the results of which will be included in OFSTED reports.

School Catering Managers in Essex, keen to meet the September 09 deadline, worked together to find an integrated catering solution. Having reviewed numerous software packages on the market, they selected HPort Standards and Education software linked to MH System’s ‘Chips’ catering software and TOSHIBA ST-A10 EPOS terminals.

“We were very proactive in our approach, as we needed to ensure that we had plenty of time to implement and test the system in order to be ready for the 2009 guidelines,” commented Sheila Verrall, Catering Manager of Philip Morant School. “We chose The HPort software due to its ability to link to Chips on the Toshiba ST-A10 tills, providing us with a totally integrated and easy to manage catering solution, with the added benefit of a ‘cash-less’ environment and by standardising the system it also enabled us to link to the Local Authorities (Essex Food Services) Team.”

The system will provide the average weekly nutritional data for the range of food products available to each pupil. Schools will then be able to provide information on the nutritional content of this range food products compared to the nutrient standards. This valuable data will be critical in educating children about nutrition, showing the problems that can occur from a lack of certain nutrients and suggesting food sources for a balanced diet.

The software aims to educate the organisation about diet and the combinations of food that create a balanced eating plan. Pupils also have the opportunity to develop their own ‘eat well plate’ and can leave feedback via surveys and questionnaires about the menu options and food choices within their school.

The HPort software contains nutritional information on each of the products purchased from catering suppliers, as well as generic information from the UK nutrient database. This allows catering managers to develop recipes and menus with the required levels of vitamins and nutrients. Once developed, if for example, the fat content has been exceeded, the system will highlight the items that contain the most fat and the recipe can be adjusted. Quantities and ingredients can then simply be tweaked on each recipe, ensuring a balanced menu. A unique preview facility ensures the balancing process only takes minutes instead of hours.

Sales products are then uploaded to the Chips software and when a transaction takes place at the till, the nutritional data relating to menu choice is recorded with the potential for further analysis. The system also provides the facility to monitor financial data; for example, cost per portion enables catering managers to maintain gross profit.

Other innovative features include the options to share recipes and menus with other schools, seasonal analysis and the opportunity to create and print recipe cards detailing exact ingredient quantities and preparation methods, ensuring that recipes are made to the same standard every time; thus, helping with ordering and stock control and reducing waste.
The software highlights potential allergic ingredients and can build-up a printable allergy declaration and also has the potential to be used as an ICT learning tool.

The system meets the needs of the 2009 Statutory Food based Nutritional Standards, allowing catering managers to quickly and easily plan menus that are compliant with government guidelines and, with child obesity at a critical level, is future-proofed to allow a detailed analysis of nutritional data relating to the food products that are available.


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