5 Things
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Religious schools will not be required to follow new Title IX regulations in order to receive federal meal funding, the USDA said in new guidance.

5 things: USDA grants religious schools Title IX exemption for school meal funding

This and an alarming plunge in the number of high school grads looking to go to college 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. USDA grants religious schools Title IX exemption for school meal funding

Religious schools will not be required to follow new Title IX regulations in order to receive federal meal funding, the USDA said in new guidance. In May, the department had announced that it would be broadening its definition of sex-based discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity, and said schools and other qualifying organizations would need to update their nondiscrimination policies accordingly to receive funding for the National School Lunch Program. The announcement set off a firestorm of protest from religious institutions who said the new mandate infringes on their rights to freedom of speech and religion and accused the Biden administration of holding school lunches hostage to further its agenda.

Read more: USDA says religious schools will be granted automatic Title IX exemption

  1. Fewer high school grads considering college

There has been a significant and steady drop nationwide in the proportion of high school graduates enrolling in college in the fall after they finish school, from a high of 70% in 2016 to 63% in 2020, the most recent year for which the figure is available, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Focus groups and public opinion surveys point to reasons like a widespread and fast-growing skepticism about the value of a degree, impatience with the time it takes to get one, and costs that have finally exceeded many people’s ability or willingness to pay. 

Meanwhile, in another blow to college enrollments and revenue streams, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that the number of U.S. student visas issued to Chinese nationals plunged by more than 50% in the first half of 2022 compared with pre-COVID levels, with the U.S. losing ground as the most-coveted place for Chinese students to pursue higher education abroad.

Read more: Why Americans are increasingly dubious about going to college

  1. App redirects corporate cafeteria budget to subsidize meals from local restaurants

In an effort to add some consistency to office-serving restaurants’ operations in Newark, N.J., audio storytelling firm Audible is redirecting some of its corporate cafeteria budget to credits that workers can spend at a rotating selection of local eateries through an app it created called Newark Working Kitchens Delivers. Before 10 a.m. every day, Audible workers can select a lunch order from one of a handful of local restaurants, which is then delivered either at noon or 1:30 p.m..

Read more: Downtown restaurants rely on the office lunch crowd. Can they survive the move toward hybrid work?

  1. Colorado voters will weigh in on universal free school meals this fall

A ballot initiative before Colorado voters this fall would institute free meals for all public schools state-wide, funded by reducing tax deductions for people making more than $300,000 a year. However, even if voters approve the ballot measure, it wouldn't begin until the 2023-2024 school year, so this year, school meal programs in Colorado will operate under the traditional free/reduced meal system that was reinstated by the federal government following expiration of the COVID era universal free meals program on June 30.

Read more: Voters can make free school lunches permanent this fall

  1. Vanderbilt adds all-you-care-to-eat, biometric entry to Commons Dining Center

Vanderbilt University Campus Dining is implementing a number of upgrades to the Commons Dining Center this academic year, including a new all-you-care-to-eat dining option and continuous dining service between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekends. In support of the new all-you-care-to-eat model, Campus Dining has partnered with Card Services to install VisionPass, a new, voluntary program that enables students, faculty and staff to gain access to the Commons Dining Center and charge meals to their account simply by standing in front of the face scanner located at the turnstiles near the cashier counter.

Read more: Commons Dining Center enhancements for 2022-2023 academic year

Bonus: For Morrison Healthcare, teppanyaki popup a winner

Contact Mike Buzalka at mike.buzalka@informa.com

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