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Datassential: College food service sales ‘have dropped off a cliff’

New data shows nearly half C&U operators’ sales have essentially gone to zero, a quarter are doing just 10% of usual volume. For those still open, C&U dining services has ‘flipped on its head,’ with streamlining, downsizing and portability according to Dasassential’s latest survey on the coronavirus crisis on campus.

Datassential’s latest report digs deeper into college operators’ responses to questions about the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on their business and what they’re doing about it. Operators are largely optimistic, but still dazed by the changes thrown their way. Self-service offerings and customizable menu items have given way to contactless delivery and social distancing.

The report finds that “the impact for the C&U segment may be longstanding as students adjust to and then expect more campus dining services delivery and as operators realize they are able to offer more and keep students happy with fewer locations and more limited menus.”

Most colleges have shut down, “but others are still running a bare-bones operation, which presents another set of challenges,” the report mentions. “C&U operators face challenges daily, sometimes multiple times a day. The remaining on-campus feeding has shifted from reducing seating to removing seating to now entirely takeout/delivery.”

Datassential has tracked this progression in serving styles, along with concerns related to makeshift satellite locations, more delivery, limited menus and more with findings based on follow-up questions from an operator survey of 426 operators.

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