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5 things: Free summer meal counts plunged 45% last year, study finds

This and a look at college student attitudes toward their campus dining programs 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.    Free summer meals saw 45% drop last year

The number of U.S. children who received free summer lunches on an average day in July 2022 dropped considerably compared to the previous year, according to a report released by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). On an average day in last July, almost 3 million children received a free lunch through the federal Summer Nutrition Program, which gives free meals to low-income children. That was down 44.5%, or 2.4 million children, compared to July 2021.

Read more: Number of children receiving free summer lunches down by almost 45 percent: research

 2.    Survey looks at student attitudes about campus food and wellness programs

The spring Student Voice survey on health and wellness found that college students see room for improvement when it comes to campus dining and wellness programs. A little over half of students agree they have access to campus dining halls when they need and want food, but a quarter of respondents say their college or university is getting dining food hall options right, and just 15% are enthusiastic about their campus’s wellness class selection.

Read more: Students’ Wellness Preferences and Food Priorities

 3.    Elior reports Q3 organic revenue increase of 8.8%

Elior Group, the French parent of FM Top 50 firm Elior North America, reported an organic revenue increase of 8.8%—20% year-on-year—in its third quarter of fiscal 2023. The multinational company does not break out results from individual geographic operating units but did show that revenues from its contract catering operations worldwide grew 3% (9.4% organic) in the quarter.

Read more: Elior Group: Solid Third-Quarter Organic Growth; Revision of the Adjusted EBITA Margin Outlook

 4.    Healthcare Services Group reports slight Q2 revenue gain in its dining unit

FM Top 50 firm Healthcare Services Group, Inc. reported revenue of $418.9 million for the three months ended June 30, 2023, with $228.1 million of it coming from its dining & nutrition unit. That's up 2% from the $223.7 million it reported for the previous quarter and a 1% gain from the $225.8 million the unit posted in Q2 last year.

Read more: Healthcare Services Group, Inc. Reports Q2 2023 Results

 5.    Reddit image of school cafeteria trash can goes viral   

One Redditor recently sounded the alarm about a problem in their school’s lunchroom. The user, who claimed to be a night custodian, shared a photo of what they found in the trash during their shift: a large garbage can piled with individual milk cartons. “About half of this 50-gallon trash can is full of perfectly good cartons of milk,” they said, adding in a comment that the milk was still ice cold. “Expiration date is in two weeks. Schools waste a lot of food.”

Read more: School janitor sparks outrage with image of lunchroom trashcan: ‘As a former child who went hungry, this hurts’

Bonus: A photo tour of Best Concepts Best of Show winner Central Table Eatery

Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]

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