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Nine Chicago area hospitals failed a combined 21 food inspections, though they did pass re-inspections by the end of the year, according to an analysis of food inspection data published in the Chicago Data Portal

5 things: Nine Chicago hospitals failed food inspections in 2021

This and the trend toward universities raising meal plan prices 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. Nine Chicago hospitals failed food inspections in 2021

Nine Chicago area hospitals failed a combined 21 food inspections, though they did pass re-inspections by the end of the year, according to an analysis of food inspection data published in the Chicago Data Portal. “We would expect that the hospital cafeteria, hospital kitchens would be the billboards of food safety compliances,” commented Pratik Banerjee, an associate professor of food safety at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. “If the hospitals start having those types of food safety violations, I would really worry about that situation,” given that hospitals serve high-risk populations where many people have a disease, so the slightest deviation in food safety in hospitals should be noted and immediately addressed, he added.

Read more: Cafeterias and food vendors in 9 Chicago hospitals failed inspections in 2021. Two failed four times

  1. Enrollment drops, inflation pressures force meal plan price increases

Penn State’s average room and board rate would increase by 3.5% for 2022-23 under a proposal recommended by a Board of Trustees committee on Feb. 17. Under the proposed plan, which is likely to garner full board approval, the most popular meal plan option would rise by $88 to $2,604.

PSU's move is in line with national trends in higher education that are seeing schools being squeezed by enrollment decreases even as they cope with inflationary pressures, with one result being board and meal plan costs being raised. Recent examples include Virginia Tech raising meal plan costs by 9% this semester to help cover a pay raise for dining hall workers, the University of Virginia raising room and board charges each by around 4%, University of North Carolina Wilmington voting to increase meal plan charges by 5.1% and the University of North Texas System board of regents agreeing to raise dining costs by 3%.

Read more: Penn State Proposes Room and Board Rate Increase for 2022-23

  1. Supply, labor shortages force peanut butter back on district menu

Peanut butter has not been served inside the kitchens of Lee County schools in Florida since 2004, but school officials say that will be changing beginning Feb, 22, when students will start to see Uncrustables brand sandwiches in cafeteria lines with a yellow sticker saying 'WARNING! PEANUTS This product contains nuts'.

"Less than 2% of our students in Lee County are allergic to peanuts," explains Coordinator of Food and Nutrition Services Amy Carroll, "Now we're faced with unprecedented times with supply shortages, labor shortages, just a variety of factors that have led us to re-examine bringing peanut butter back on the menu because it's an affordable, available commodity that kids enjoy eating."

Read more: Peanut butter back on the menu for Lee County schools

  1. Oncology dietitians tend to neglect patient food insecurity, study finds

Although studies suggest that many cancer patients experience food insecurity, few oncology dietitians routinely ask them if they are having problems affording or obtaining food, new research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has found. Despite awareness that many cancer patients are food insecure, most of the 41 registered dietitian nutritionists interviewed by researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign said they did not use a validated tool to screen patients for it. The participants worked in various types of clinical settings, including outpatient cancer treatment centers and inpatient units at hospitals in urban, suburban and rural locales across the U.S.

Read more: Only few oncology dietitians ask cancer patients about food insecurity, research finds

  1. High no-show rates depress F&B sales and impact concert venue finances

The concert industry was expecting a full-scale recovery in 2022, but persistent fears about COVID-19 have led to high no-show rates that disproportionately impact venue finances as they often make at least 65% of their revenue during the concert from food and beverage sales, parking and their cut of merchandise sales. Prior to the pandemic, the average no-show rate—the percentage of ticket buyers who don’t attend an event—averaged around 5%, but now, “sagging consumer confidence is causing national no-show rates as high as 50%,” claimed Raeanne Presley, co-owner of the Presley’s Theater in Branson, Mo., in an appearance before a recent House of Representatives Small Business Committee hearing.

Read more: Even With Sold-Out Concerts, No-Shows Are a Big Problem for Venues

Bonus: Metz menu promo celebrates Winter Games with international dishes

Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]

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