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CRB Cunninghams are delighted to have been named the winner of the Innovation award at this year’s Public Sector Catering Awards, the first dedicated edtech company to ever achieve a public sector catering award.

Public Sector Catering Awards

Dedicated to recognising and celebrating excellence in the public sector catering industry, the virtual award ceremony took place on 15th September 2020. 

Award finalists were announced in March, with the original event due to take place in April. However, due to COVID-19, the event was postponed until September and hosted online.

Although attendees could not be at the event in person, it was great to be in contact with esteemed colleagues and leaders across the industry in this virtual event.

Innovation award

Judges were looking for a product or service innovation that has dramatically changed an operator’s catering strategy. The release of Fusion Online, CRB Cunninghams’ innovative pre-ordering app that encourages pupils to pre-order their school meals directly from their mobile phone, coupled with exceptional service and dedication to the education sector confirmed CRB Cunninghams as the 2020 winner.




The Innovation Award, announced by Mark Moloney from Youngs Foodservice, declared CRB Cunninghams as the winner for the following reasons: 

1. Innovative pre-ordering app, Fusion Online

An innovation for secondary schools, Fusion Online provides a secure and adaptive platform to encourage pupils to pre-order their preferred meal options in advance, whenever and wherever they are.

No longer restricted to the dining hall, pupils can choose their favourite school meals on-the-go to ensure their order is ready to pick up at lunchtime.

"For us, the main thing is looking at pre-ordering and looking at the future developments that are associated. The use of a phone-based app will make a big difference in how pupils order their food. That’s a really important development and one that we are keen to test." Jayne Jones, Customer of CRB Cunninghams, Commercial Manager at Argyll and Bute Council, and Head of ASSIST FM. 

2. Food-to-go for the student on-the-go

For pupils, Fusion Online ensures their favourite lunch is pre-ordered and pre-paid. A seamless connection with our cashless catering system ensures the cash balance for pre-ordered meals is automatically deducted from their account and their live cashless balance is available to view from their mobile device.

This means that pupils can simply grab their lunch and go, which is extremely beneficial to those attending lunchtime clubs & activities.

"Giving pupils the flexibility to pre-order meals out with school time and to do that from home is a really important development for parents because it will give them more input to what their children are ordering." - Jayne Jones, Customer of CRB Cunninghams, Commercial Manager at Argyll and Bute Council, and Head of ASSIST FM. 

3. Increase uptake of school meals

Fusion Online is a vital platform for schools to compete against out-of-the-gate food options. The convenient pre-order app encourages pupils to stay within the school grounds during lunchtimes, resulting in more revenue for caterers and schools.

Catering staff can easily promote special offers and events such as theme days or other information directly through the app. The push-notification feature allows schools to reach pupils outside of the dining hall in a simple, yet effective way. 


4. Combat food wastage in schools

£250 Million per year is lost due to food waste in schools and colleges in the UK. To combat food wastage and the associated cost, Fusion Online tells staff exactly what lunches need to be prepared in advance.

The combined cashless package provides catering managers with a host of management information, including historical data and an analytical view to better predict food trends and to assist with stock ordering and long-term planning. 

5. Customer feedback: Frederick Gough School

Frederick Gough School was the first to go live with Fusion Online in May 2019. The app, which can be downloaded from Google Play or the App Store, provided a simple onboarding process for pupils.

Delighted with the enhancement to their pre-ordering service, Fusion Online was promoted as ‘the best way to pre-order your dinner. And the feedback from staff and pupils has been positive’

 John Curtis, Business Manager at Frederick Gough School had this to say:

"Fusion Online was introduced as an extension of what we offered in terms of pre-ordering and provides a further function there is a high demand for at our school. Modern and reactive, our school is benefiting from new technology as it advances and that is something that is only going to continue."

6. Customer-driven research & development

The CRB Cunninghams customer user-group was formed to provide a forum for customers to help shape the future development of their systems.

This close relationship has allowed us to ensure that our systems are continually enhanced to exceed client needs in an ever-changing marketplace, providing the ability to benchmark and analyse nutritional standards, improve efficiency, reduce costs and improve uptake of school meals throughout the country.

In 2011 we first introduced the ability to pre-order meals that encouraged secondary school pupils to choose school meals rather than opting for local shops and burger vans. To facilitate this, we introduced touchscreen kiosks that could be placed throughout the school with meal collection points in strategic locations.

Initially developed as an answer for customers that required a flexible solution that would allow pupils to pre-order meals 24/7, we are delighted to introduce Fusion Online to schools as an enhancement to their pre-ordering service.

Our in-house research and development team utilised the latest technology and Azure hosting to offer this product to schools with enhanced security. Multiple delivery options including pick-up points, QR codes, order numbers and biometrics, are available to suit the needs of individual schools to seamlessly integrate with their existing cashless catering service, providing a single solution for many issues facing our customers today. 

7. About CRB Cunninghams

CRB Cunninghams has over 50 years' experience providing software, hardware and services to schools throughout the UK. Our mission is to help schools become cashless and benefit from the numerous effects this brings, such as reduced debt, food waste reduction, free school meal anonymity to name just a few.

Our vision is to remain the premier supplier of software, hardware and services to education establishments throughout the UK specialising in cashless, online payment and identity management systems. We achieve this vision by employing the best people, continual product innovation, quality customer service, and our Software for Life policy.

8. Dedication to the Education sector

CRB Cunninghams has consistently proven their leadership and innovation as market leaders in the education sector for over 50 years, and deserve to be recognised for the Innovation Award this year, as Fusion Online becomes available to secondary schools across the UK.

The forward-thinking pre-order app is a direct result of our dedication to our customers and our determination to provide innovative and effective solutions to the issues that they face. This commitment to our customers ultimately puts CRB Cunninghams at the forefront of changing the cashless catering landscape, yet again.

Innovative in both conception and implementation, Fusion Online is a testament to the teamwork, creativity and leadership reliably shown by each member of the CRB Cunninghams family, and proudly represents our staff, our values, our company and most importantly, our customers.


David Paylor, Commercial Director of CRB Cunninghams had this to say:


“It is fantastic that CRB Cunninghams is being recognised for innovation. We pride ourselves on delivering innovative solutions to our customers and we see this award as a direct result of our dedication and drive to provide new solutions that benefit our customers.

I’d like to say congratulations to all the worthy winners and finalists, thank you to Public Sector Catering, and all those involved in hosting the event.”