Set up, edit or delete Rotating Meal Menus

You can use our Rotating Meal Menus functionality if you have rolling meal choices that change often, and want parents to be able to book which meal their child will have in advance through the parent Portal and Parent App.

Rotating Meal Menus are included in our newest Perform package. All other Arbor packages won’t have this feature by default. Want to upgrade or find out what package you’re on? Just get in contact with your Account Manager.


You'll need the Meals: Administer All Students permission to set up meal menus. If you don't have the permission, you'll need to ask your admin team to give you permission using these instructions.


Before setting up Meal Menus

First, decide whether you wish to charge all students for meals.

If you don't want to charge students, please follow our guidance here: Set up meals without using payments or having Payments

If you do, check:

  1. You have set up card payments in Arbor. If you want to enable payments to be made via card for Meals, you'll need to make sure you have already set up Card Payments in Arbor.
  2. Make sure there is a Customer Account type for meals in School > Payments > Setup > Customer Account Types, and that it's visible on the Parent Portal if you want guardians to be able to top up the account.
  3. Set starting balances to bring over any starting money from your previous meals management system: Creating Initial Account Balances
  4. Complete steps 1-5 of setting up your meals in Arbor: Setting Up Meals

Your setup will look like the below screenshot.



When you follow the instructions below, the Regular Meal Choices option will no longer be there.

Top Tip: The Meal Menus section will show a tick if there's an active meal, and will show a cross between active meal menus (for example during a school holiday).



Adding a Meal Menu

Follow the instructions below to set up your Meal Menu.

Step 1 - Set up the menu

Click on Meal Menus, then click the Add meal menu button.



In the slide over, add the name for your menu - you might want to name it based on when it will be available, such as for the Autumn term, or if you're running a special seasonal meal.

Then choose how often you want the menu to repeat - you can select between 1, 2, 3 or 4-week menus.



You'll then see your menu created.


Step 2 - Add your menu availability dates

Click into a meal menu to add the availability.

The Parent Portal Availability section allows you to control when this menu should be available from and to.

It is not possible to have multiple menus within the same Meal that have overlapping dates. Should you wish to have different meal menus for different years, you'll need to set up separate Meals in the Meal Setup area.



The "Meal choice cut-off time period" and "Meal choice cut-off time" fields work in tandem with each other, allowing you to control up until what point a parent can make a meal choice online via the Parent Portal or Parent App.

You can select hours, days, or weeks, and a number. For example, if you set Meal choice cut-off time period to Days and Meal choice cut-off time to 2, parents will be able to make meal choices up until 2 days before the scheduled Meal Sitting starts.

Leave this section blank if you don't want to set a cut-off time for choices from parents, and allow them to choose right up until the meal starts.


Step 3 - Add Provisions

Click on View meal menu to open your Meal Menu page, where you can see a tab for each week's menu if you've chosen a rotation other than one-week.



Click +Add to add a new row for a new meal option. For each day, select what food choice or provision that option is, and a parent-friendly name that will appear in the Parent Portal and Parent App. In the example below, you can see the vegetarian option is Pizza on Tuesdays and Burger on Wednesdays.

Top Tips:

  • You must add a label if you've added a provision, and vice versa
  • You are not able to add the same Provision more than once for a particular day

Once complete, click Save Changes and make sure you've completed the menu for each week.




Viewing and logging meal choices

Once you've set up Meal Menus, you'll no longer have Regular Meal Choices for students. So that students are charged correctly with the right price, you'll need to make sure either that:



What's next?

On the day of the meal, your meal registers will be automatically filled in once attendance is taken: Taking the meal register

You can report on your meals:



Can parents view meal choices on the Parent Portal and Parent App?

Guardians can edit their children's future meal choices until either:

  • the deadline your school sets for changing meal choices has passed.
  • the meal has taken place if you don't set a deadline.

Once the deadline passes or the meal has taken place, guardians can see but not edit past meal choices.  

Why is the setup page showing a cross or X?

The Meal Menus section will show a cross if either:

  • You have not yet set up meal menus - follow the instructions above to add them.
  • there isn't an active meal meal menu (for example during a school holiday). In this case, check there will be a menu starting after the holiday. In this case, it will show a cross until the new menu starts.

Screenshot 2023-10-04 at 11.59.32.png

Can we edit our Meal Menu once set up?
  • You can edit the Menu name if required at any point by clicking on Edit availability.
  • The Rotate every field is only editable until you set up your Provisions.



Once the Menu available from date has past so your menu is active, you won't be able to edit the Provisions.

You'll need to edit the availability dates so that the start date is in the future to be able to edit your provisions.


Can we delete a Meal Menu?

It is not possible for school staff to delete a Meal Menu once set up. You can either:

  • Changing the dates so it becomes a future Meal Menu.
  • Remove the dates and don't use it.
  • Contact the Arbor Support Team if supported by Arbor, or your Support Partner if not supported by Arbor to delete this for you. Please note that if meals have been selected, we will not be able to delete this for you.
I'm getting an error when setting up my Menu?

It is not possible to have multiple menus within the same Meal that have overlapping dates. If dates overlap within another Meal Menu, an error will be displayed when clicking Save Changes.


Can we go back to not using Meal Menus?

When you follow the instructions below, the Regular Meal Choices option will no longer be there.

If you would like us to remove your Meal Menus to go back to using Meal Choices instead, please contact the Arbor Support Team if supported by Arbor, or your Support Partner if not supported by Arbor.


Can we set up special Meal menus for a day?

Please see our guidance on this here: Adding a seasonal meal (e.g. Christmas lunch)

Why is the Meal Menu on the wrong week after a holiday?

The meal choices shown to parents do not skip weeks for holidays. This is because some schools continue to run meals for students during holidays, such as FSM initiatives, trips, clubs or childcare.

For example, if you have a 3 week rotating meal menu:

  • this week is week A
  • next week is half term, however this week will still be week B
  • the week after the holiday will be week C

Should you with to restart your rotating meal menu on a certain week (such as week B), you would need to:

  1. end your meal menu at the end of the week before the holiday
  2. set up a new meal menu to start on the first day back after the holiday
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