What a winter! We have had more snow days this year than any year in recent memory.
We know schools weigh many factors when deciding to cancel, including whether their students will eat if school is not in session. Sometimes schools wait to see forecasts for the next day or road reports, or wait for the neighboring public schools cancel. When our schools - up to 150 locations - do cancel, it sets off a "flurry" of activity at CKC to protect the integrity of food and to avoid food waste and unwanted charges.
Here's a behind-the-scenes look at the day in the life of a snow day at CKC's central commissary:
By 3 AM - Schools notify ALL THREE: Director of Operations Matt Anderson, Kitchen Manager Joel Wight and ovens@ckcgoodfood.
Why 3 AM? Because shortly thereafter we start pulling food from the freezers and heating it for delivery. Minnesota Department of Health requires food to be thrown away if it has been cooked. MDH also has a 7-day limit from the time food is removed from the freezer to when it's heated and served.
The early notice is also helpful because we can tell our team members to stay home and stay safe. If we're not notified, it's business as usual: we prepare meals, send our drivers out in the hazardous conditions to deliver meals and schools are charged for the day's meals.
Matt notifies Administrative Coordinator Barb Reinhold, who keeps a giant spreadsheet for tracking which schools/locations have closed. Ultimately, that spreadsheet is passed along to Finance Coordinator Steve Schnaser, who uses it to deduct that day's meal count from schools' weekly meal counts as submitted on our website. Matt also notifies our driver manager and the warehouse to stop planned deliveries to schools that have closed.
On most days, the meal that was to be served on the day school was canceled will be served the following day, shifting the meals each day that week to the following day. Friday's meal would not be served. If school is canceled two consecutive days, the meal that was to be served the first canceled day is now served two days later and the meals for the following days shift one day. Confusing matters more, some schools serve a different number of students throughout the week. So, meals pushed to the next day or two days later may have different meal counts than what was originally planned.
Some of our schools receive their meals a day prior to the day of service and heat meals onsite the next day. When those schools cancel, their menus also get pushed by one day but the clock is ticking on MDH's 7-day limit. If school is canceled on Thursday and Friday and their meals were delivered Wednesday, those meals have to be served Monday.
Pizza Days: If school cancels on a pizza day, we still need to be notified by 3 AM to cancel the order with Domino's and to keep the sides delivered from CKC in cold storage. If we're not notifed, schools are charged 50% based on submitted meal counts.
If school is canceled the day before a pizza day, schools have the option of still serving pizza rather than the meal planned for the day school was canceled, however, schools will be charged for the meal not served as well as its pizza day.
Breakfast: Schools that receive breakfast foods in one bulk delivery a week are billed for the number of breakfasts delivered, whether school is open or closed. It's imperative these schools keep refrigerated foods cold and adjust their meal counts the following week to reflect the quantity on hand due to the days school was canceled.
Salad Bars: Salad bar foods, which are typically delivered on Mondays for the entire week's lunches, cannot be held for the following week and need to be thrown away.
Confused yet? We haven't even mentioned snacks and FFVP foods!