An innovative alternative to printed monthly menus—one that appeals directly to today’s tech-savvy student—has been developed by the Lakota (OH) Schools Child Nutrition Department. It uses a QR code imprinted on a refrigerator magnet that can be scanned with a smart phone to display the day’s menus.
QR codes launch a website displaying the requisite information when scanned with a msartphone camera.
“As far as we know, this is a first in child nutrition,” says Lakota’s Director of Child Nutrition, Chris Burkhardt. He says he came up with the idea after attending a conference where an equipment manufacturer was using a QR code to promote its products.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for parents to see the nutritional menu offerings we have for their kids day in and day out,” Burkhardt explains. “And rather than waste time and paper printing out the menu each month, they can put this magnet on their refrigerator year-round.”
Lakota ordered 8,000 magnets at about four cents apiece, with the cost deferred by the savings on printing menus, which also gives it a “green” tinge because of the savings on paper. The program was rolled out at the district Thanksgiving dinner.
The reaction so far has been positive. “Kids are putting them on the inside of their lockers so they can scan it before lunch to see the menu,” Burkhardt says. The next day’s menu is posted each day at 2 p.m. following the conclusion of that day’s lunch periods.
The magnets are being randomly dispersed via students’ lockers at both of the district’s high schools and are also available to interested parents and students in the front offices of all Lakota schools, from Early Childhood buildings up through the high schools.
Lakota is a district with some 18,000 students and a free/reduced percentage of 15 percent. Most students own smartphones, Burkhardt says.