Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools
Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina began the school year fully online with a meal bundle program called CMS Eats at Home through which families can preorder meal bundles to be delivered once weekly or for pick up at one of 40 CMS sites. The bundles include five breakfasts and five lunches that families will be able to preorder using the district’s existing PayPAMS system.
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A company called Wholesome Foodservice is partnering with a major Colorado public school district on a school meal preordering system that lets students remote-order meals from the school’s kitchen for later pickup. The system allows the meals to be customized, something very difficult to do otherwise given the constraints imposed on traditional self-service cafeteria lines by COVID restrictions. Other vendors as well as contract management companies are also developing and introducing their own preorder platforms that can be used by both onsite and remote learning students, a development that promises to bring K-12 foodservice into the mobile order culture already pervading the commercial restaurant world.
Prince William County Schools
Prince William County Schools in Virginia is taking a step further in its meal distribution program by handing out grocery bags of ingredients (bread, milk, fresh produce, etc.) that families can use to construct their own meals rather than meals that are already prepared.
Auburn University and Aramark are using automated food lockers that customers access with a personal code to receive mobile-ordered meals from campus dining outlets. The strategy keeps students away from service counters while allowing quick service response as the food is usually delivered fresh and hot to the lockers within minutes of ordering.
After being forced to limit its highly popular meal plans to resident students only as a COVID-necessitated response, Virginia Tech is augmenting dining service to commuter and off-campus students—and helping the local economy in the process—by partnering with local restaurants in a program called Blacksburg Delivers that lets students order dishes from participating establishments and have them delivered to designated pickup points on the campus.
Stanford University has instituted perhaps the country’s most stringent customer safety program by requiring students entering dining venues to wash their hands at mobile hand washing sinks outside the doors and to undergo a quick temperature check. Students whose temperature remains elevated after several checks are not allowed into the facility but can get what they want packaged and brought out. They are also sent to the campus health center for further evaluation.
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Spectrum Health Buttterworth Hospital in Michigan partnered with two local catering restaurants that were also severely affected by the pandemic to produce full microwaveable meals to go at a reasonable price. The meals were prepared in the restaurant catering kitchens, chilled, brought to the hospital and merchandised as a partnership between Spectrum and the restaurants in order to help strengthen relations with the surrounding business community.
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Like at most other healthcare facilities, meal service for COVID-positive patients at Beaumont Health in Michigan was delivered by unit nurses rather than foodservice staff, but with its traditional room service model, too much nursing time was taken up with this task, so meal service was modified to have trays delivered at one scheduled time each meal period so that the nurses could focus on that task rather than having to stop what they were doing for individual trays coming up.
UF Health Shands
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The issue of delivering meals to COVID-positive patients was dealt with differently at UF Health Shands Florida Hospital in Gainesville, where beginning in August, dining staff started delivering food directly to those patients. The Compass One Healthcare team worked with the Infection Prevention team to train one associate per shift for the COVID unit, who delivered the food directly to the patients wearing all the necessary PPE and practicing all CDC protocols. The associate stayed on the unit throughout her shift while a single designated cart was used to deliver the food and then thoroughly sanitized between each trip.
At ProMedica Hospital in Toledo, the Sodexo dining team used its already planned outdoor cookout pop-up events to provide a boost for its retail dining program while giving hospital staff a series of much-appreciated distractions that featured different cuisines and themes ranging from Hawaiian luau and Mexican fiesta to New England clam bake and All-American ballpark favorites.
Sodexo has developed a dining platform called Modern Recipe that is designed to operate in a COVID and post-COVID environment by offering appealing, diverse and safely prepared and served food choices from multiple serving stations. Already implemented in several major venues in markets like New Orleans and Buffalo, Modern Recipe cafés offer customized meals tailored to local food cultures and preferences.
Penn State Health
At the administrative offices of healthcare firm Penn State Health in Hershey, Pa., the Metz Culinary Management team has developed a take-home meal program designed to serve various-sized families that not only offers customers a convenient and tasty alternative to home cooking or commercial takeout but also gives the onsite dining program an additional revenue stream that might remain feasible even after the pandemic passes.
Fifth Third Bank
Another corporate dining provider, AVI Foodsystems, is partnering with major financial firm Fifth Third Bank on a daily free meal program for Fifth Third employees who work onsite in the company’s support services complex in Madisonville, Ohio, and Grand Rapids, Mich. The free meals are supplemented with purchasable grab-and-go and custom-prepared choices as well as snacks and beverages from the onsite cafés and micro markets.
A potential new revenue stream for dining providers serving businesses was recently piloted by the home-meal-delivery firm Freshly, which is offering contracts for businesses to provide delivered meals to employees working from home as an amenity replacing the workplace café.
Legacy Retirement Communities
Time windows instituted in Legacy Retirement Communities in Nebraska in which seniors seated at properly distanced tables can enjoy a meal in a congregate dining room. The room is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized in between each sitting.
Menno Place in Vancouver, Canada, also has socially distanced communal seatings with residents rotating through on a set schedule to ensure everyone gets a chance for a semi-group meal; it also has put on special events such as outdoor barbecues that residents can view (and smell!) if not physically attend, with the freshly prepared food then delivered by cart to the rooms.
Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina
A live-streamed cooking show residents can view that is put on by Cura Hospitality Senior Dining Chef Eileen Goos at Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina is an example of the kind of extra engagement service dining programs in senior living facilities can provide in the absence of traditional physical attendance events like dining room cooking demos.