Pascagoula School District, located on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, is comprised of 18 cafeteria sites with an enrollment of 7,200 students. Dianna Krebs is the director of child nutrition for the district. She is the State Secretary for the Mississippi School Food Service Association (MSFSA) and is an active participant in the School Nutrition Association (SNA). Pascagoula’s Child Nutrition Department is a vital part of the community and the local economy, serving more than 3,000 breakfasts and 5,500 lunches per day, with annual revenue figures topping out at $3.7 million.
Pascagoula School District’s previous technology system did not include integrated back of the house modules, making it difficult to produce consolidated reports and perform the analysis necessary to effectively manage the department. Dianna needed a program with back of the house modules that would work seamlessly together and allow her to improve her department’s productivity and efficiency.
After spending a great deal of time in her procurement process interviewing technology vendors, Dianna was able to narrow it down to three companies. In the end, Pascagoula turned to Horizon for its technology partnership. “I wanted a company that would grow and change as the times grow and change. I wanted a stable company, one that was going to be around for a long time to come. Plus, I needed a fully integrated program with all the back office capabilities; no one else could offer me as much as Horizon and at the price of Horizon,” stated Dianna.
Horizon worked closely with Dianna and her team by first conducting an initial discovery meeting to determine the exact product and implementation needs of the district. Horizon’s representatives were able to assist the district in forming new processes and best practices for the sites to utilize.
Pascagoula began their implementation with Horizon’s Point of Service (POS) suite and then began gradually deploying the back office modules.
Dianna decided to “go live” with each back office module in a phased approach to avoid overwhelming the managers. The district started with Inventory Management and Procurement. After those modules were in place, Dianna implemented the Production module at one school site as a pilot and was almost ready to roll it out to the other sites when Hurricane Katrina hit the coast. “I’m just now able to get back to our plans for the Production module,” Dianna said.
Pascagoula has seen a significant reduction in losses from shrinkage and waste, along with improved end-of-year inventory values, as a direct result of using Horizon’s back of the house solution.
The district suspected one of its managers of taking food home. “Using the inventory program, we discovered she was not only using school district food, but also labor time to run her catering business,” Dianna stated.
The system’s reports allowed Dianna to detect discrepancies with this manager’s inventory. Dianna noticed that other school sites were sending items to this manager’s school using the correct stock transfer procedures in the system, but the manager was never receiving the items into the system. Dianna went to the school after hours and found unaccounted for inventory items, including products like meatballs and deviled eggs, that were not even on any menus. “The manager had used the school’s food and labor to prepare these items,” Dianna said.
Pascagoula has also been able to decrease wasteful leftover discards. “With our old way, leftovers would get forgotten and have to be discarded,” stated Dianna. Now, the system shows the leftovers that are available so they can be used the next day or the next time that item is served.
Dianna appreciates being able to monitor inventory from the central office for more than just detecting theft. She uses the system to identify sites with overages so the extra items can be transferred to other schools. “It helps us to know which managers have ordered too much, so we can move the food and not be left with a high inventory at the end of the year,” Dianna said. “The first year that every school used Horizon’s Inventory Management module, our end-of-year inventory went down $27,811.66, which is about 10%. The next year it dropped another $8,586.27.”
Currently, Pascagoula is getting back on track with implementing the Production module. Dianna is going with her original plan to start with one school site to get the menus and recipes set up. “Right now, we are keeping production records manually and perpetual inventory manually. So, I am looking forward to having all of the processes automated and having centralized control,” said Dianna.
Pascagoula is not only excited about the savings that have resulted from using Horizon’s back of the house products, the district is also thankful to have implemented the system before Hurricane Katrina. “We lost all our inventory paper work in Katrina. If we had not been using the Inventory software, I could not have given accurate information to FEMA,” Dianna said.