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:
- Hundreds of NYC school foodservice workers haven’t been paid in a month
A snafu with the New York City Education Department’s payroll system left 280 city school food service workers without pay since at least April 2, according to this report from the Daily News.
Many school food service workers ordinarily pick up paychecks at their jobs or nearby district sites, but when most of the city’s 1,400 school buildings were closed, the food workers were consolidated into 435 buildings to prepare grab-and-go meals for needy families and to feed the children of first-responders at the city’s Regional Enrichment Centers.
Education department officials said delivering checks to schools was “logistically impossible” during the pandemic. They distributed April 2 paychecks at a central office in Downtown Brooklyn, but some workers missed the distribution because they got out of work too late, said Donald Nesbit, Vice President of DC 37 Local 372.
After April 2, officials moved to send all payment by mail. They sent a survey in late March urging employees to enroll in direct deposit or enter their home addresses for mail delivery. The agency also distributed flyers at schools and created a call-in line. But Nesbit said lots of his members never got the survey because it was sent to official Education Department email addresses that many food workers never use and don’t even know about.
UPDATE: The Dept. of Education subsequently reported that the checks were issued but couldn't say how many of the affected workers received them.
- Survey shows discontent with online college courses
One encouraging note for campus dining programs in an otherwise pessimistic report on college enrollment from the SimpsonScarborough higher education research and marketing company is that its research shows college students do not like the online education they have been receiving. According to its surveys, 85% of students want to go back to campus to finish their degrees while 15% want to finish online.
SimpsonScarborough also predicts on the basis of multiple student surveys it has conducted that four-year colleges may face a loss of up to 20% in fall enrollment. The findings are based on surveys of more than 2,000 college-bound high school seniors and current college students in March, just after the coronavirus began spreading in the United States, and in April, after three weeks of record unemployment claims.
Among the findings: 10% of college-bound seniors who had planned to enroll at a four-year college before the COVID-19 outbreak have already made alternative plans, and 14% of college students said they were unlikely to return to their current college or university in the fall, or it was "too soon to tell." Exactly three weeks later, in mid-April, that figure had gone up to 26%.
Read more: Colleges Could Lose 20% of Students
- Duke celebrates traditional Midnight Breakfast online
The annual tradition of Midnight Breakfast at Duke University still closed out the 2020 spring semester, but from home kitchen tables instead of campus eateries. About 670 students, including about 227 members of the senior class, logged on to special Zoom rooms in the closing hours of April 24 to take a break from studying for finals and spend time together.
A dozen students from East Campus Council, Duke Student Government and Duke University Union had worked remotely for weeks to re-imagine the cherished tradition, distributing recipes, conversation starters and Zoom backgrounds showing campus dining locations in advance. Class councils spent programming funds—unused because of canceled events—to create 250 giveaways, many of which were gift cards bought from Durham-area restaurants.
- Private school’s reopening includes cold lunch in the classroom
Nampa Christian School in Idaho is welcoming students back into its buildings, though with shortened days, modified passing periods and the cancellation of large-group assemblies and cafeteria lunches. The 730-student PreK-12 school may offer a preview of what other schools may look like when they eventually transition back to in-person instruction, though it has smaller class sizes than many public schools.
Idaho's stay-at-home order expired on April 30, allowing some businesses to begin reopening. Although public schools are recommended closed for the academic year, individual school districts can choose to reopen if they secure approval from their local health department and create plans for protecting vulnerable staff members, communicating with parents and allowing flexibility for families concerned about the risks of sending students back to school.
Among coronavirus-related adjustments at Nampa Christian are students having to eat cold meals in their classrooms to avoid congregating in the cafeteria.
- COVID delays major housing/dining project at UM-Duluth
A $70 million housing and dining project at the University of Minnesota Duluth has been delayed due to coronavirus impacts. Paid for by on-campus revenue and not public dollars, the project includes a 10-story residence hall that would be the tallest building on campus as well as a new dining hall. The 350 new beds were expected to lighten the demand on Duluth’s tight rental market when the new residence opened in fall 2021.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]