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5 things: Report finds afterschool meal participation drop

This and a boom in suburban food halls driven by the remote work trend 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.    Report finds afterschool meal participation drop

While over 1.15 million children received afterschool suppers through the Afterschool Nutrition Programs on an average school day in October 2022, that was 339,360 fewer than in October 2021, according to the Afterschool Suppers: A Snapshot of Participation-October 2021 and October 2022 report from the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) anti-hunger advocacy organization. It notes that  during the pandemic, participation in afterschool suppers remained relatively stable, increasing by 2% in 2020 and 3% in 2021, as the USDA issued waivers that allowed all communities to offer afterschool suppers and snacks and addressed operational challenges. However, with the return to pre-pandemic operations, many afterschool programs and meal sponsors are struggling with staffing shortages and increased food prices, and many have either closed or had to limit capacity during the pandemic and have not been able to fully recover.

Read more: Afterschool Meals Participation Substantially Drops for First Time Since 2010, Food Research & Action Center Report Finds

 2.    Food halls booming in suburbs, driven by remote work trend

As work has migrated to homes as a product of the remote work trend, work lunches are following, and one result has been a boom in suburban food halls, collections of independent restaurant concepts under one roof that offer more interesting fare than the typical mall food court or mass market chain restaurant, and previously were to be seen mostly in New York City catering to tourists. Now, there are at least 10 times the number of food halls scattered around the country as a decade ago, primarily in suburbs where formerly commuting office workers now spend many or all of their workdays and covet the kinds of lunch options they had working in downtown offices.

Read more: Food Halls, a Hot Real-Estate Investment, Conquer the Suburbs

 3.    Texas Rangers offer $250 menu item at World Series games

For World Series games at Globe Life Field, the Texas Rangers are offering a $250 set of three sandwiches called the Three Strike Lobster Roll that includes a two-foot-long lobster roll topped with beef tenderloin, a two-foot-long loaded hot dog called the Boomstick and a two-foot-long beef patty topped with chili, cheese, jalapeño and onion rings called the Boomstick Burger. Only 10 of the Three Strike Lobster Rolls will be available at each World Series home game at Globe Life Field.

Read more: Texas Rangers to sell $250 sandwiches at World Series games

 4.    Pilot program ships organic milk directly to schools

A pilot project is underway to get more organic milk into classrooms across the Windham Northeast Supervisory Union region in Vermont, where the Miller Farm in Vernon bottles its own organic milk and recently expanded its processing operation thanks to a quarter million dollar grant from the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center. “That allowed them to expand their processing facility here on the farm so that they could add the bulk bags that the school nutrition service needs for their meal service,” said Helen Rortvedt with the Northeast Organic Farming Association. She says some of the milk produced at the farm is now shipped directly to schools. “We are trying to demonstrate that it can be done, that local schools can work with local farms.”

Read more: Pilot program allows organic dairy to ship directly to schools

 5.    Healthcare Services Group reports Q3 financial results

FM Top 50 firm Healthcare Services Group reported FY2023 Q3 revenues of $220 million for its dining and nutrition unit, up slightly from the 217.6 million reported for Q3 in 2022. Total Q3 2023 revenues for the company as a whole, which includes its housekeeping/laundry unit, was $411.4 million, down from the 414.5 million it reported in Q3 of 2022, though adjusted revenues, which are non-GAAP financial measures and exclude the impact of certain items, was $424, which the company said was in line with expectations.

Read more: HCSG Reports Q3 2023 Results; Raises Cash Flow Expectations

Bonus: Sodexo reports 13.9% organic revenue gain in 2023 fiscal year

Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]

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