K-12 Nutrition Leaders Trust SmartSense and PrimeroEdge to Ensure Safe Meals

Dagmara Gujda (Associate Director of Compliance, Nutrition and Food Service, Katy ISD) and Jodie Defrancesco (Assistant Director, Nutrition Services, Pasadena ISD) share how SmartSense helps their school districts easily achieve HACCP compliance, automate menu integration with PrimeroEdge, and ensure food safety for the thousands of students they serve.

Katy ISD covers 72 campuses, operates 78 kitchens, and serves 94,000 students. Pasadena ISD covers 67 campuses, operates 67 kitchens, and serves 50,000 students.

SmartSense is the exclusive menu integration partner of PrimeroEdge School Nutrition Software. SmartSense's digital HACCP management platform seamlessly integrates with PrimeroEdge, providing school districts with seamless workflows for menu planning that flow all the way down to the physical device that their cafeteria teams use to monitor food safety.

[Dagmara Gujda] My name is Dagmara Gujda. I'm the Associate Director of Compliance for the Nutrition and Food Service Department at Katy ISD. We have currently 72 campuses and 78 kitchens where we serve over 80,000 meals every day to 94,000 students that are enrolled. I'm attending the PrimeroEdge Cybersoft conference to learn more about the programs and reports and modules that PrimeroEdge has to offer.

[Jody Defrancesco] My name is Jody Defrancesco and I am one of the Assistant Directors in the Child Nutrition department at Pasadena ISD. We have about 50,000 students. We have 67 campuses that we service with kitchens located in each one of them. I handle much of the operations, so from the planning of the menus, analyzing of the menus, making sure they're compliant, as well as pulling that down to the food on the plates. PrimeroEdge is our software that we use for back of the house as well as our POS, which is front of the house. We are completely integrated with inventory, production records, menu planning, and our point of service as well. Being a large district with many locations, we were looking for a solution that allowed us a touch point for both us and our supervisors to see what was happening in our kitchens, kind of at our fingertips. We were using manual HACCP logs. We needed to physically be in a kitchen to see what was happening from the side of HACCP as well as food quality.

[Dagmara Gujda] We were looking for a solution to have better accountability of tracking temperature-taking in our kitchens because our goal is to serve nutritious healthy and safe meals to our students. Prior to that, we would just document everything on paper.

[Jody Defrancesco] We were looking for something that was easy to use, that was sturdy, that we could take a lot of temperatures with, not necessarily abuse, but in a working kitchen, there's a lot of handling that goes on, as well as something that could potentially integrate with our Primero system, our back of the house system, so that updates were happening and we weren't manually trying to load information. SmartSense was the only one that we saw that dealt closer to what how we operate in Child Nutrition. The other two that we looked at were focused more on a restaurant setting, which we do provide a restaurant experience, but our operation is not necessarily built for the systems that were geared more towards restaurant. Our culture is one of “feed kids first.” And feed kids first means we want them to not only take the food, we want them to enjoy the food, and we want them to be assured that they have a safe product to Visibility into execution consume.

[Dagmara Gujda] The alerts in the command center let us see what products were alerted, and then we can go ahead and take a look if products were cooked, what corrective action was taken, and continue the cooking process, so it's really good for tracking.

[Jody Defrancesco] SmartSense solves the issue of not being able to be everywhere at once as well as peace of mind, knowing that a mistake's not accidentally made on a paper log, somebody accidentally rides the wrong temperature down, maybe forgets to write a temperature down. We have a much more extensive HACCP log as a result, so many more temperatures are being taken, which also helps with food safety, but we've also seen a dramatic increase in food quality because we're able to see when a kitchen is either overcooking food, under cooking food, maybe we we've noticed equipment problems as a result, where food's automatically being overcooked by a certain kitchen. We can go check it out and see, hey, we've got an equipment problem. I would say both our food safety and our food quality has been increased as a result.

[Dagmara Gujda] Sometimes employees would forget to write down temperatures. And if temperatures were not written down, temperatures were made up, just to show that they were in compliance with temperature-taking. Whereas now you know with the menu integration, when the menu downloads into the Shield, you can then see which products were temped, which ones were not.

[Jody Defrancesco] Our supervisors have come back to us, the reports that they look at, they just talk about how much more effective they can be by being able to see those, and they know where to direct their attention.

[Dagmara Gujda] You know, nowadays, everyone uses a cell phone, has a smartphone. The shields are very similar. It's just a press of the button, and with Primero’s menu integration, we don't have to program the Smart Shield. The employees are directly downloaded into the Smart Shield. The menus are directly downloaded into the Smart Shield, and it's really just really easy for us to use.

[Jody Defrancesco] We did our high schools, which we knew would be the most challenging. We got them on board first, and then we rolled it out to the entire district. It really worked out well because our high schools were able to tell all of the other schools, “Hey, this is easy. We can train our people.” As we receive new people, like a substitute comes into a kitchen, it's very easy to add them to the handheld.

[Dagmara Gujda] The support that we get, proactive support, from SmartSense is also great. Quick to respond to any of our questions.

[Jody Defrancesco] We have awesome customer service with SmartSense, from our sales rep all the way up to customer support.

[Dagmara Gujda] Any other school districts who are actually using PrimeroEdge, I would strongly encourage that they consider SmartSense to be incorporated into their school district, just for the reports, the accountability, the reliability that we are now seeing. It has many great benefits on holding your staff accountable and confirming that you are in compliance, especially when a health inspector comes and questions you about your food, about your product, you can pull up all these reports in the command center that back up your information and back up your process in the kitchen.

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As one of the larger public school systems in Texas, we need district-wide visibility to monitor our inventory and equipment in order to ensure the safety of our students. The Smart Sense HACCP management solution, with its flow of food and menu management capabilities allows our department to ensure compliance and food safety across the district while also monitoring food quality for our students.  The system is both easy to use and easy to train new employees. We love it.

Mary Harryman

Pasadena ISD

Any other school districts that are using PrimeroEdge, I would strongly encourage that they consider SmartSense to be incorporated into their school district. It has many great benefits for holding your staff accountable and confirming that you are in compliance. 

Dagmara Gujda

Katy ISD