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Sodexo, the food service provider for the Faribault Public Schools in Minnesota, and Afro Deli and Grill, a restaurant chain in the Twin Cities that serves African and Mediterranean cuisine

5 things: District partners with local deli to bring African and Mediterranean choices to school meals

This and empty office buildings being turned into vertical farms 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.    Sodexo partners with Afro Deli to diversify school district’s menus

Sodexo, the food service provider for the Faribault Public Schools in Minnesota, and Afro Deli and Grill, a restaurant chain in the Twin Cities that serves African and Mediterranean cuisine, are working on a partnership with the district to provide students with food that is more culturally appropriate for the increasingly diverse population. This summer they are doing a trial run at Faribault Middle School.

Read more: School District, Sodexo test culturally diverse food options

 2.    Empty office buildings finding new use as urban farms

With office usage hovering near 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels, cities are putting the underutilized space to new use growing food. For example, an old paper company and warehouse building in Arlington, Va., is now home to Area 2 Farms, which now pumps out greens, herbs and root vegetables. There’s even a weekly CSA serving customers year round, all in an effort to bring locally grown food to the Washington, D.C. area.

Read more: Empty Office Buildings Are Being Turned Into Vertical Farms

 3.    Montefiore Medical Center embraces plant-based nutrition program

The Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York helps patients who have been diagnosed with heart or blood vessel disease reduce their cholesterol and blood pressure, lose weight, improve their energy, and even reverse type 2 diabetes. The outpatient program, a whole-foods, plant-based nutrition plan, has had such success that the hospital introduced vegan meals for inpatients and plays the documentary Forks Over Knives in hospital rooms to teach patients about how animal-free eating can help them get and stay healthy.

Read more: Should Hospitals Be Serving Meat When Vegan Food Heals?

 4.    50% drop in job applications has Bismarck Schools scrambling to feed students

According to Bismarck Public School’s Child Nutrition Program Director Michelle Wagner, the program is having a hard time providing for North Dakota children in the way that it would like due to a current staffing shortage. According to Wagner, job applications to the program have dropped almost 50% compared to last year’s number of applications. “We’ve had a lot more people retire in the last year,” she said.

Read more: Bismarck schools cut back on meal options for students due to a staff shortage

 5.    Ballpark’s popular toasted grasshoppers lead to further cuisine diversity  

Toasted grasshoppers, better known as chapulines in Mexico, are among Latin America's most famous snacks and that popularity has made its way to the Pacific Northwest to become a staple at T-Mobile Park, home of Major League Baseball's Seattle Mariners. Since their inception, chapulines constantly rank as one of the ballpark's most popular dishes and have also opened the door for Seattle to broaden its horizons regarding different cuisines.

Read more: Why do the Mariners serve grasshoppers at games? How unique menu item became a staple at T-Mobile Park

Bonus: FM announces 2023 Best Concept Award winners

Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]

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