McAllen Independent School District (McAllen, TX) found new ways to communicate with parents and students during COVID-19 that will stick around long after things return to normal.
Alex Molina has been Foodservice Director of the McAllen Independent School District since 2013. 87% of her students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, so participation during COVID-19 shutdowns remained very high. Thanks to an existing Meals on Wheels program, McAllen was familiar with how to deliver food to students. But new technologies they embraced in 2020 helped them navigate the present, and pave the way to new opportunities in the future.
“For meal delivery from March to October, we used an app called Here Comes the Bus, which notifies a parent that the bus is approaching. At our height we had 37 bus routes that were delivering meals to little pockets in neighborhoods—and the furthest a child would have to walk was 2.5 blocks, with no crossing of a major street. We’ve since phased out that delivery model, but now parents who never would have thought to put their kids on a bus are bussing kids to school because they saw how smoothly this app operated.”
“We found unique ways to communicate on social media. Our student outreach director, Lisa Cavazos, was brand new to McAllen and her job came to a screeching halt at the very beginning of COVID. But starting with a Here Comes the Bus promotion, Lisa ramped up communication on our social channels. Using two Bitmoji avatars, we also helped make a real connection with families. Anytime we made a big change, we announced it in both English and Spanish using Bitmoji Lisa and Bitmoji Oneida on social.”
“We started tapping into mothers in the community as influencers to help get the word out. They explained the funding piece of the meals and how we were not going to generate the same amount of revenue for the school’s meal program without high participation.”
What Does the Future Look Like?
Leaning into brand recognition. “We went to the 2 oz. cereal cups from General Mills across the board, and students like seeing the brand from the store in their school lunch. I could probably buy a different brand of cereal, but there’s something that resonates when they see a familiar label.”
Follow along with Alex and the McAllen Independent School District on social media to see how they (and their Bitmojis) are keeping families in the loop!
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