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:
- Chicago Schools re-ups with Aramark
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has agreed to a new one-year $88.5 million foodservice contract with Aramark—pending Board of Education approval at its monthly meeting on May 25—but added a second company, Chicago-based Open Kitchens, to serve 163 schools with no full kitchen plus a couple-dozen after-school programs. Starting Aug. 15 with four additional one-year renewal options, the new contract is slightly cheaper than years past as it "reflects a decrease from last year because Open Kitchens is no longer a sub-contractor of Aramark and we are able to realize a cost saving by contracting directly with this Chicago-based company,” CPS Spokesperson Mary Fergus said.
- Families desperate for baby formula showing up at hospitals
The baby formula shortage in the United States has meant major stress, inconvenience, and expense for millions of families, but for some children, the hunt for formula has led to the hospital when their families can't consistently find the kind they need. "While all U.S. hospitals use infant formula and accessories, especially those with birthing and pediatric units, children's hospitals are more likely to use specialty formulas that meet the unique nutritional needs of the sickest infants and children," the Children's Hospital Association said in a written statement. “Many of these families must go to the hospital as a last resort for their child to be fed intravenously.”
Meanwhile, Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has teamed up with the Mothers' Milk Bank of Austin to provide donated breast milk for those infants who cannot get those much-needed nutrients from their mothers.
- New Illinois law to require plant-based lunch for all who request one
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed House Bill 4089 into law this week that requires all Illinois school districts to supply a plant-based school lunch to any student who requests one starting in August 2023. The bill is an amendment to the School Breakfast and Lunch Program Act of 2000, which allows the state government to reimburse any school that starts a non-profit breakfast or lunch program for the cost of each meal.
- Hybrid vs. return-to-office has employers scrambling on policies
The conundrum facing executives nationwide these days is one familiar to anyone who has ever planned a birthday gathering: “It’s really hard to get anybody to come to a party if everybody RSVPs maybe,” said Zach Dunn, an expert on hybrid work and founder of workplace management company Robin. However, some are coping better than others.
For instance, Atlanta-based online payments platform Relay Payments last month it told staff they were encouraged to come in two days a week and reinforced it with free lunches, with the result being that the average weekday now finds about half of the 90 local workers in the office, which the head of human resources, Amy Zimmerman, sees as a sign that the company can encourage community without policing it. “My challenge to the founders was, let’s be intentional,” she said. “Let’s not just say, ‘Hey, everyone be in the office two days a week’ without saying what’s different, what can you do in the office that you can’t do at home.”
- UC Riverside opens two more dining venues as staffing recovers
University of California Riverside Dining Services has opened The Market at North District campus c-store and reopened Bytes café, which had been closed for over two years due to the pandemic, as the program continues to rebuild its workforce and reopen its facilities in recovering from the disruptions of the past two years. The reopening of Bytes came in response to customer demand and was made possible by the continued rebuilding of dining staff, said Kourtney Gilbert, marketing and communications coordinator for Dining Services.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]