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U.S. Army.jpg Bo Zaunders / Corbis Documentary / Getty Images
ive Army bases could soon have private companies instead of soldiers serving food in dining facilities through a new pilot program that aims to completely overhaul the way the service feeds troops in garrisons.

5 things: Army is looking for a few good restaurants

This and Ole Miss Dining contracting to get humanely raised whole animals from a local farm for its kitchens are some of the stories you may have missed recently.

In this edition of 5 Things, Food Management highlights five things you may have missed recently about developments affecting onsite dining.

Here’s your list for today:

 1.    U.S. Army looking for restaurants to operate base dining facilities

Five Army bases could soon have private companies instead of soldiers serving food in dining facilities through a new pilot program that aims to completely overhaul the way the service feeds troops in garrisons. The hope is to take an approach similar to college campuses and offer brands that have healthy options and are recognizable to young people, such as Panera Bread or Chick-fil-A, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said during a January town hall at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. It asks companies to be responsible for renovating the dining facility to meet the company’s needs, use a sales system that allows soldiers to pay with their basic allowance for subsistence meal card, and offer food that meets the nutrition standards of the service.

Read more: Army looking for restaurant industry partners to take over dining facilities at five bases

 2.    Ole Miss Dining goes whole hog

Ole Miss Dining at the University of Mississippi has announced a new partnership with Home Place Pastures in Como to bring a whole-animal purchasing program to campus. Home Place Pastures will provide Ole Miss Dining with whole animals such as cows and pigs that have been humanely raised, grass-fed and processed in a way that minimizes waste, and the university's culinary teams will then turn the meat into delicious dishes.

Read more: Ole Miss partners with Home Place Pastures for campus dining program

 3.    School hires students to fill vacant jobs like cafeteria monitor

Students at Edwards-Knox Central School in Hermon, N.Y. are earning money during school hours by actually working for the school district in positions such as cafeteria monitor for elementary students, part of the district’s efforts to fill vacant positions while giving students their first working experience. “Because it is a limited amount of time during the school day, we were struggling to find employees that were able to fit into those slots," said Principal Amy Sykes. "So as we were brainstorming, one of the thoughts we had was to bring students in and help them develop some of those soft skills and reliability to again meet the 21st Century needs for students and also provide some cash in their pockets." Students go through the same application and hiring process as anyone else applying for a position in the school district.

Read more: School district pays students to fill vacant jobs

 4.    Houston VA hospital in pilot to address veteran food insecurity

The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston has been chosen to participate in a pilot program hoping to address the staggering number of veterans who experience food insecurity. The initiative will allow more than 200 local veterans to enroll in the “Fresh Connect” program providing them $100 gift cards each month to buy fresh produce.

Read more: Houston VA hospital working to combat food insecurity for veterans

5.    Sustainability becoming a major trend in sports venues

A recent trend spreading across sports venues has arenas and stadiums not only adopting sustainable and environmentally friendly practices, but putting those efforts front and center for fans, players, musicians, and anyone else who enters the building. The trend is being driven by the success of some pioneering facilities such as Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, which became the first pro sports venue in the U.S. to achieve LEED Platinum Certification in 2017, and Footprint Center in Phoenix, which works directly with the materials science company that holds its naming rights to eliminate single-use plastic from the arena and on other sustainable practices. The bar across sports was set even higher in 2021 when Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle opened and not only became the first net zero certified arena in the world but served as a call-to-action for Amazon’s push for companies globally to be net zero carbon by 2040.

Read more: The business case for green sports stadiums and arenas is growing

Bonus: Veggies? Preschoolers say, “Yes, please!”

Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]

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