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Kindergarten attendance increased by 1.8 days per school year and chronic absenteeism dropped by 5.4 percentage points among those getting free school meals compared to those who did not.

5 things: Study finds universal school meals improve attendance for youngest students

This and a Black History Month dinner series at Cornell that included a botanic history lesson 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. Study finds universal school meals improve kindergarten attendance

Kindergarten students in schools with universal free school meals chalk up better attendance records than their peers without this access, according to a recent Syracuse University study analyzing the link between free school meals and students’ health and academic performance. The study of 132,353 New York City kindergarteners found that kindergarten attendance increased by 1.8 days per school year and chronic absenteeism dropped by 5.4 percentage points among those getting free school meals compared to those who did not. It also found that those attendance benefits can continue years down the road, with chronic absenteeism disparity dropping over time, from a 5.4 percentage point difference in kindergarten to a 2.2 percentage point gap in 2nd grade.

Read more: Universal school meals improve attendance for youngest students

  1. Black History Month dinners include botanic history lesson

Throughout Black History Month, Cornell University Dining has been offering a series of dinners featuring its take on traditional dishes of the African diaspora, and at these dinners, the Cornell Botanic Gardens is introducing students to its exhibition, “Seeds of Survival and Celebration: Plants and the Black Experience,” which includes an outdoor plant display describing plants that are significant to the Black experience in the Americas, dating back to the transatlantic slave trade. Sponsored by Black Students United, the dinners, held in eight of Cornell Dining’s residential dining rooms during February, carried themes such as Caribbean or Moroccan cuisine; Jamaican, East African or Haitian fare; or North or West African inspirations.

Read more: Dinners explore intersection of plant history, cuisine

  1. Google Cloud unit to have shared desks, two-day in-office policy

Google’s unprofitable Cloud division is cutting back on office space and telling workers to come into the office only two days of the week, when they’ll alternate on shared desks. The mandate takes effect in the second quarter in New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Sunnyvale, Calif., and Kirkland, Wash.

Read more: Google Office Cuts Will Force Workers to Share Desks

  1. LAUSD plans to air-condition its school cafeterias

The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education has approved a $30 million bond-funded program to provide air conditioning systems in school cafeteria kitchens across the district, a significant investment that aligns with the 2022-26 strategic plan. The program will provide multi-ton commercial grade air conditioning equipment at up to 682 school kitchens with implementation beginning in the first quarter of 2023 with the goal to complete as many sites as possible before the start of the 2023-24 school year.

Read more: LAUSD bond funds safer cafeteria kitchens

  1. House cafeteria workers contemplate pickets, walkouts

If contract negotiations with dining services operator Sodexo don’t improve, the union representing U.S. House of Representatives cafeteria and catering workers expects some representatives, staff and visitors may have to skip lunch at some point later this year as their union is contemplating actions similar to what Senate cafeteria workers undertook when they protested and picketed amid negotiations before ratifying a new contract in the fall. The collective bargaining agreement for the House’s 35 caterers expired at the end of the year, while the contract for 120 dining services workers ends in May.

Read more: House cafeteria workers eyeing pickets, walkouts if contract talks sour

Bonus: Oak View Group engages Shaq, Giada De Laurentiis, Trisha Yearwood to elevate venue F&B

Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]

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