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5 things: Biden Administration wants unionized, full-time school cafeteria workers

This and a look at the food athletes at the Beijing Winter Olympics are eating 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. Biden Administration wants unionized, full-time school cafeteria workers

A new Biden administration report by a new task force meant to bolster both union membership and worker organizing is recommending that schools should hire cafeteria workers as full-time employees as a measure that could cut down on labor shortages in the sector and give another frontline group the power to bargain for benefits as a collective unit. The task force is recommending that, when it comes to school cafeteria workers, the Department of Agriculture explore how it can use its "purchasing power with subgrantees and their contractors to employ full-time workers in the school lunch and child nutrition programs."

Meanwhile, a new report released recently by the Economic Policy Institute that interprets data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests two reasons for why school support jobs are not rebounding: the first being that workers in those roles tend to skew older—50.4% of cafeteria workers are 50 and over—and are therefore more likely to have serious COVID-19-related health concerns, and support staff wages in public K-12 schools are below industry standards, as the median weekly wage for cafeteria workers between 2014 and 2019 was $331, while the average American worker earned $790.

Read more: Schools are struggling to feed kids lunch, and Biden has a solution: Cafeteria workers should be full-time and unionized and Even with higher pay and signing bonuses, public schools struggle to hire bus drivers and cafeteria workers

  1. What are Beijing Olympics athletes eating?

Athletes at the Winter Olympics in Beijing have been posting videos of what the inside of the Olympic Village dining room, and the food they're being served, is like, some with enthusiasm and some not, at least not in the quarantine hotel, from where Russian biathlete Valeria Vasnetsova posted a rather unappealing photo of a meal she received for "breakfast, lunch and dinner for five days already" that consisted of pasta, potatoes, an indistinguishable red sauce, meat on the bone and plain chicken.

Read more: What are athletes eating in Beijing? Get an inside look at the Olympic Village dining hall

  1. Healthcare Services Group dining unit sees 4Q 2021 boost in revenues

FM Top 50 firm Healthcare Services Group reported fourth quarter 2021 revenues in its dining/nutrition unit of $220.4 million, up about 8% from the $203.2 posted in 4Q of 2020. However, for the year, revenues in the unit, which accounts for about half of total company revenues, was $820.6 million, down about 5% from the $865 million generated in 2020.

Read more: Form 8-K

  1. Sodexo Live! Adds a couple major deals

Sodexo's Sodexo Live! events hospitality services unit has announced the renewal of its long-term agreement with the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park, where it will continue to provide dining services for all events at the venue, including Mariners home games, top-tier concert performances and an array of other functions and events. Shortly afterwards, the company also announced a new, multi-year agreement to provide catering and culinary services for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA)—one of the nation’s largest non-profit theatre organizations—and its diverse slate of venues in downtown Denver, which entails providing inventive menus and engaging displays for the Garner Galleria Theatre, Seawell Ballroom and Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex.

Read more: Hitting it Out of the Park: Sodexo Live! Strikes Multi-Year Renewal with Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park

  1. Retired car dealer to pay for all hospital staff meals on Valentine’s Day

Gene Epstein, a retired car dealer who is known for his constant and creative gifts to community members, will be paying for meals for all 24 hours of Valentine's Day at St. Mary Medical Center in Newtown, Pa. Some 550 health care workers will be able to enjoy a "special" meal at the on-site restaurant, courtesy of the Gene and Marlene Epstein Humanitarian Fund. He said they also plan to decorate with flyers, banners, and balloons for a festive atmosphere.

Read more: 550 St. Mary Health Care Workers Will Get A Free Valentine's Meal

Bonus: Fresh Ideas Food Service develops comprehensive plant-based menu

Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]

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