Last week we sat down with Renelle Leinbach, Administrative Reviewer through multiple state agencies and School Nutrition Consultant, to get her thoughts on the state of the school nutrition software industry. Check out this Q&A with her to learn about how Health-e Pro stacks up.

What’s your experience in the school nutrition industry?

I started back in 2012. I got my degree in Food and Nutrition Management and then a graduate certificate in Food and Nutrition. I’ve primarily worked for a company that does the audits/Administrative Reviews with different state agencies, so I work with six different states and do all their reviews. I also consult for some companies, including a food service management company, so I see the school side of things—including procurement—not just the outside Administrative Review.

I see a ton of different menus across many different states. We get their menus in a few different ways. Some of the school districts will send us their nutrient analysis in printed reports out of their software program. Some send paper copies; others are provided to us through school nutrition software itself.

It’s kind of funny: people ask me weight-loss questions, but I really only know school food–that’s it! Ask me about ounce equivalents and I can tell you all about them, but that’s about it!

What was the child nutrition industry like when you started? And how has school nutrition software shifted since then?

When I first started, it was all overwhelming. That’s when they changed the new meal pattern and introduced the six-cent certification. No one had used these worksheets before, so having to learn all that was crazy. Luckily, when I came into the industry, I was trained with the new meal pattern and six-cent certification, which made everything easier.

With my experience reviewing different school nutrition software, I learned they all have their pros, and when that’s all you’ve ever used, it’s fine. But when I started seeing and using Health-e Pro, it was incredible: you could have everything on one screen!

What impressed you about Health-e Pro when you saw it?

Some of the other programs, you’re clicking all over the place to find nutrients, or ingredients. But with Health-e Pro, it’s so easy–and saves so much time–to have it all in one place.

Also, Health-e Pro being web-based is huge. Other school nutrition software that isn’t web-based is so difficult with backups–different little things you can’t access through just your computer.

Another huge thing with Health-e Pro is being able to pull up nutrition labels and product formulation statements, and also being able to access the global ingredients. As a reviewer, we see hundreds of menus and districts are using the same products. We often have to ask them to send us the documentation, but if they were using Health-e Pro, it’d already be there in the software itself.

That’s what I’m impressed with: how easy it is to click–and how few clicks you need–and how visually nice it is. Health-e Pro has a great user interface.

What else have you noticed in side-by-side comparisons?

There’s one software where they’ll let you upload a label, but it takes so much time to get from step to step. It takes 20 clicks to get into a recipe or look at something specific within a recipe. With Health-e Pro, it’s all right there on the same screen.

I recently started using one of the newer, cloud-based softwares out there in my consulting role. I’m helping someone put their menus in, and it’s been very challenging: there are little tabs for everything. Nutrients have their own tab, components have their tab, allergens have their own tab, ingredients have their own tab.

In Health-e Pro, you go into a recipe, and it’s all there.

Having used most of the big menu planning and nutrient analysis software now, Health-e Pro is so much more user-friendly, and it is so easy to get the information you need quickly.

I’ve used four USDA-approved child nutrition software programs now–and reviewed two others during an admin review–and Health-e Pro beats them all!

Check out Part Two of this blog post next week!