In this special edition of 5 Things, Food Management highlights five things you may have missed recently about developments regarding coronavirus and its impact on onsite dining.
Here’s your list for today:
- Hospital staff gets food poisoning from holiday meal
Several staff members at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal suffered apparent cases of food poisoning after taking part in an annual pre-holiday free meal on Nov. 24. A hospital spokesperson confirmed the incident but noted that the food suspected of causing the illness came from an outside caterer, not the hospital’s kitchen.
- School district sees fourfold increase in interest in its foodservice contract
In a possible sign of how COVID has affected the foodservice contract industry, the Union R-XI School District in Missouri is seeing a major uptick in interest in bidding for its food services when its contract with current provider Chartwells comes up for renewal. Five years ago, only two companies bid for the contract, but eight have expressed interest this time around. District Superintendent Dr. Steve Weinhold suggests the reason may be the dearth of business in other traditional contract foodservice markets because of the pandemic while the K-12 market continues to operate: “Colleges, office buildings—they aren’t running now,” he notes.
- Silicon Valley dining providers prepare for a post-COVID future
Dining management companies like Bon Appetit Management Co. and Guckenheimer that serve the high-tech firms in California’s Silicon Valley have been “pretty much all closed down and shut down right now,” according to Bon Appetit CEO Fedele Bauccio. The companies are nevertheless preparing for a post-COVID future characterized by fewer onsite customers, more spacing and continued restrictions on traditional practices such as self-serve stations. Bon Appetit has been looking at technology solutions such as automated vending and “smart” food lockers while Guckenheimer has experimented with delivery and drop-off to client employees.
- Princeton invites students back for spring though most classes will be online
Princeton University will invite all undergraduate and graduate students to campus this spring, according to a message from University President Christopher Eisgruber, though most instruction will remain online, and classes with an in-person component will be offered in a “hybrid” format to accommodate students studying remotely.
All students will also be required to sign up for a uniform meal plan and the university expects “that all undergraduate dining halls, the Center for Jewish Life, and the Graduate College will be open for the spring semester, subject to state mandates and guidance in effect,” according to Princeton Campus Dining, with seating limited to allow for six feet of social distancing and meals available for takeout.
- Parent sues military childcare center over family-style dining practices
The parents of a seven-month-old boy enrolled at a child care center at Marine Corps Base Hawaii have filed a complaint alleging a "substantial and specific danger to public health" over the facility's family-style dining approach during which caretakers do not wear protective facemasks as they eat meals with children. A Marine Corps spokesman responded by noting that the base's Child Development Centers implement distancing between children and staff members during mealtimes to mitigate risk but the practice of using family-style dining to "role model" and "build healthy eating habits" is continuing.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]