School Lunch App Delivers Positive Side Effects
The school lunch has been a hot issue since the Swedish government closed all the country’s upper secondary schools in March of this year. In April, AcadeMedia Free School Group, with around 36,000 students in Sweden, launched a new app that gives their students easy access to school lunch even as they are remote learning from home. Now, AcadeMedia considers using the app also after the schools reopen.
– It started as a temporary solution, but now we have a long-term goal of maintaining this system even after the Corona crisis. The reason is that the app helps reduce food waste and improve the food quality, says Jimmy Kjellström, chief operating officer at AcadeMedia.
When AcadeMedia and the software company Optidev started the development of a digital solution to help manage school lunches, several positive side effects quickly became clear. The app’s “reservation system” provides detailed information that enables the food suppliers to plan better and minimize food waste.
Mathias Kristiansson, project manager at AcadeMedia and responsible for the current project, explains:
– In addition to reducing food waste, our suppliers now have much better insight than before. The app helps them identify the most popular dishes and the preferred way of preparing the food. Perhaps fish balls aren’t so popular among the students, but Thai fish stew is. The app simply allows us to raise the quality of the food for our students and we are now looking at what a permanent solution could look like.
The app allows students to access next week’s school lunch menu and order the food they want via their phone. All lunch orders for the coming week have to be submitted by Tuesday the week before. As a result, food suppliers receive detailed food orders and can plan purchases and production accordingly.
Students pick up their school lunches at locations near their regular schools. In order to receive the food, students have to present a personal QR code, which also contains information about allergies and special diets.
The project faced several challenges, including the large scale of the project that included linking students, schools and various catering companies in different parts in Sweden – from Luleå in the north to Ystad in the south and the urgency of the project presented an even bigger challenge.
– Normally a project like this can take years or at least months to implement, but in this case, time was the most critical factor and all parties worked together to make it possible. Staff, schools, students and catering companies, but also Optidev freed up resources and worked evenings and weekends to get the system implemented in record time, says Jimmy Kjellström at AcadeMedia.
Usually, Optidev focuses on development of logistics solutions with customers such as PostNord and DHL.
– At first glance, this project may seem to be completely outside of our core business, but the fact is that order management, production, and distribution of lunches, involves many different logistics functions. Based on AcadeMedia’s size, we identified several opportunities for measureable positive effects. The project’s long-term perspective and focus on sustainability, removed any doubts we had and we felt confident to take on the project. Our focus was how quickly we could deliver a solution, says Fredrik Logenius, CEO of Optidev.