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Elementary students in the Sweet Home school district in New York have spent two years eating lunch in their classrooms.

5 things: Classroom distancing hampers return to cafeteria eating for school district

This and statistics showing demand for remote work outstripping supply 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. Classroom distancing hampers return to cafeteria eating for school district

Elementary students in the Sweet Home school district in New York have spent two years eating lunch in their classrooms, initially due to COVID-19 restrictions and then because of a space crunch, but their parents now want to get the kids out of the classroom and back to the lunch room. Unfortunately, because of the district's policy of maintaining social distancing through smaller class sizes, extra spaces like cafeterias have had to be commandeered for classroom use even as the district sees an enrollment increase.

Read more: Sweet Home struggles to get kids back in cafeterias

  1. Remote work demand outstripping supply, data shows

While remote job listings accounted for only 18.4% of paid job postings in May, they attracted 53.5% of the total applications, according to LinkedIn data, strongly indicating that the demand for remote and hybrid work is significantly higher than for in-office work. Moreover, that 53.5% figure for remote work applications is a huge increase from the 2.9% generated in January 2020, just before the COVID pandemic hit. The bottom line seems to be that if employers want employees back in the office, they may have to provide inducements like attractive amenities.

Read more: Is That Remote Job Opening Really Remote? Check the Fine Print

  1. St. Paul to use district funds to continue free meals at 18 schools

St. Paul Public Schools in Minnesota plans to spend $1.7 million in district general funds to continue providing free meals in 18 schools that will no longer qualify for the federal free meal program in the coming school year. "It's a benefit that once you have it, it's very hard to take away," said Jackie Turner, chief of administration and operations. "Parents and families come to expect it."

Read more: Why St. Paul Public Schools is spending $1.7M on free meals for higher-income students

  1. Is the suburban office park obsolete?

Is the future workplace suburban or urban when it is not remote? While suburban office parks have drawn far less attention than downtown offices in the face of the remote work trend, their decline, which began before the COVID pandemic, reflects changes forced by a younger generation that wants more urban offices or at least suburban offices that feel more urban, with sidewalks and somewhere different to eat lunch every day. While many office buildings in an urban core tend to at least be in busy neighborhoods with other merits and are pushed to remain modern due to the amount of nearby competition, suburban office parks have had a harder time rebounding, in part because an estimated 57% of suburban office space nationwide is old enough to be considered functionally obsolete.

Read more: Lonely Last Days in the Suburban Office Park

  1. Hospital repurposes extra food for food-insecure area residents

For Community Medical Center (CMC) in New Jersey, serving area residents means offering nutritious meals that ease hunger among fixed-income seniors and others each week in a warm, friendly environment. Adding to CMC’s annual food drives and other health promotion efforts, the hospital launched a new weekly meal donation service last October in which it plates up repurposed food from the hospital for more than 50 area residents facing food insecurity that teams of CMC volunteers distribute every Wednesday afternoon.

Read more: Nourishing Hungry Neighbors

Bonus: FM announces 2022 Best Concept Award winners

Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]

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