How KIPP NorCal Schools Solved the Challenge of Business Meal Expenses

With automated expense reporting that bypassed the need for employee meal reimbursement, DoorDash for Business helped KIPP NorCal feed its workforce.

8 min read
DDfB - Blog - How KIPP NorCal Schools Solved the Challenge of Business Meal Expenses - techer and students

Since its first location opened its doors in 2002, KIPP Public Schools Northern California — known as KIPP NorCal for short — has led the way in providing accessible, inclusive, and academically excellent education opportunities for young people across the region. The organization currently operates 21 charter schools in seven cities: East Palo Alto, Oakland, Redwood City, San Francisco, San Jose, San Lorenzo, and Stockton.

More than 6,300 students are enrolled in KIPP NorCal's schools, ranging from kindergarteners entering the classroom for the first time to seniors getting ready for graduation. The organization's mission is to empower them to succeed on whatever path they embark on.

But it's not just students that the team at KIPP NorCal aims to support. They also want to ensure that staff feel recognized and rewarded. "Each school has an annual budget for benefits and gifts," said Chandhardeep Dool, Accounting Manager at KIPP NorCal. "How they use that budget is up to them. They can use it for staff appreciation such as meals, gift cards, apparel, or other supplies."

DDfB - Blog - How KIPP NorCal Schools Solved the Challenge of Business Meal Expenses - taking picture of empty plate with phone

Employees were uncertain about what qualified as a business meal expense 

A recurring concern emerged for the KIPP NorCal team, however. With elementary, middle, and high schools operating across diverse school districts, there was little to no uniformity in how staff used their extra benefits, nor did they understand the steps necessary for making and claiming purchases. Errors and discrepancies became a common issue.

And it wasn't just a lack of standardized expense processes that were causing administrative issues for KIPP NorCal. "Employees would lose receipts, and this creates an audit risk as an itemized receipt is required for each purchase," explained Dool.

But after examining numerous expense reports, something caught Dool’s eye. A significant number of staff purchases were for meal delivery services. This makes sense— during a busy day, it's essential to eat, but there's not always time to coordinate catering for staff events or after school programs. Some staff were also ordering meal delivery outside of school hours on their KIPP NorCal credit card, despite the fact that the card was only supposed to be for school-related purposes during the workday.

By setting the proper parameters around when and how business meal expenses could be made, the KIPP NorCal team hoped to create a win-win situation: it would eliminate erroneous claims, which in the most serious cases could be considered fraudulent, while making meal delivery services more easily and readily available. After all, it's been shown that treating staff to meals is a great way to show gratitude for their work and boost organizational culture

KIPP NorCal needed a new solution for employee meal reimbursement

Dool and the KIPP NorCal team needed a solution that would allow them to accomplish several mandates:

  • Help staff understand the parameters around ordering meals

  • Make business meal expensing a more efficient, traceable, and user-friendly experience

  • Enable admins to easily collect and review expense reports in one centralized platform

"After some initial research, we saw that DoorDash for Business would meet our needs," Dool said. "We decided to implement it for a few schools in the beginning, then roll it out across the organization.”

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DoorDash for Business provided solutions for business meal expenses 

As an all-in-one solution, DoorDash for Business brought the capabilities and convenience the KIPP NorCal leadership team was seeking. First and foremost, they were able to set limits on when and where food delivery was permitted, eliminating the problem of orders happening offsite or after hours. "I can see who's ordering where, who's using what, and can add or remove people from the account," said Dool.

That convenience extends to schools and their faculty. With DoorDash for Business, staff could order food from a wide variety of vendors to suit their personal preferences — not just restaurants, but also grocery stores. "It's been great to have the budget and group order limits that the schools can set themselves," said Dool. "DoorDash for Business helps each school track how they're spending. Since we are publicly funded, our expenses are public information. So it's great to know and keep track of all that."

For Dool and the KIPP NorCal team, setup and onboarding was a seamless process. "Our account manager was great. She provided us with a folder full of items that explained how to get started," he said. "It was very simple — nice and easy to use." In addition, there was no charge for a corporate account, making DoorDash for Business more affordable than other delivery apps.

According to Dool, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from those who use DoorDash for Business, and those who keep the books. "If anyone needs to find an invoice, we can just log in and find it that way instead of searching through emails," he said. "With a centralized portal, all invoices and accounts are in one place." For administrators at KIPP NorCal, this has been a game-changer.

DoorDash solved the challenge of employee meal reimbursement

With two new schools opening in Stockton in 2024 and 2025, KIPP NorCal expects to have a regional workforce of more than 1,000 employees, and DoorDash for Business will give them the freedom they need to budget their food orders according to specific needs.

"Each school is different — in its community and address, its budget and needs, and its employees — so the flexibility that DoorDash for Business offers is really good," said Dool. “If I could give advice to another organization like ours, it would be that DoorDash for Business is great for keeping track of invoices and budgets. It's user-friendly, everything's in one place and centralized, and the solution is inexpensive."

Discover more about how DoorDash for Business makes ordering and expensing meals so much simpler for your workforce.