Sunderland City Council is rolling out the Evolve Smart Catering System in 15 out of its schools by the end of 2022 after seeing it in action in another council area and being impressed with its benefits to schools and councils.

The challenge

Sunderland City Council required a meal ordering system that could be rolled out across its primary schools that would be flexible enough to appeal to and cater for each school. Although the council had previously investigated various systems, they had proven too costly and not met its requirements. Recognising the need to not only provide parents and pupils with a choice of healthy meal options, but also reduce waste and therefore cost, Sunderland City Council approached Evolve to provide its Smart Catering System after hearing good things about it.

The solution

To see the software in action, the catering and business development team at Sunderland City Council visited Trafford Council where Evolve’s system was in place and were very impressed with what they saw, specifically that since implementing the system there had been a sustained increase in meal uptake.

Finding families to be under increasing financial strain, the council recognised the importance of managing food waste as a priority to keep costs down for schools and parents. Knowing the exact number of meals needed and therefore managing cost of food and labour helps the council to offset some of the cost-of-living increases. 

The ‘triple lock’ system in the software was another appealing factor for the council. This refers to the software’s ability to ensure all allergies and dietary requirements are recognised and catered for. From when the parent chooses the meals, to the order going through to the school kitchen and right to the counter collection – the software will flag up each child’s requirements. The software protects schools as it puts the ordering in the hands of parents and ensures no child is left with a meal they cannot eat or do not like. 

The results

Although the roll out of the software has just begun, for the council being able to modernise the school meals ordering system with all of the above benefits will help them to win new business and increase the number of schools that are under the council’s catering. 

Graeme Guthrie, business development manager at Sunderland City Councilsaid:

“Seeing the software in action in Trafford was an eye opener for us. The schools have been able to significantly reduce time out of the classroom due to kitchens being able to be more organised and less waiting around for children to choose a meal. This has helped save the staff’s time and is also beneficial for the children.”

Sunderland Council hopes to roll out the system in all of its primary schools.

Graeme Guthrie continued: “The easy functionality and value for money of the system was something that the team knew would appeal to schools. Parents can order weeks in advance or just on the day, we love the flexibility.

“We’ve had a really positive experience with Evolve in the implementation process, with the team working hand-in-hand with us and the schools. The company has also provided all the materials parents and schools need. Knowing we have the Evolve team to help at any point for back-up is reassuring.”