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:
- Will colleges that open their campuses have an advantage this fall?
Amid all the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic for higher education, two things are becoming clear. Most students yearn to come back to campus in the fall, in spite of the risks. And if, instead, students wind up receiving online instruction come September, they don’t want to pay full tuition.
These two factors are driving the decision-making of millions of students and their families. In response, many institutions are frantically making elaborate and expensive plans to open up classrooms and dorms, in part because they feel like they have to. Surveys show that an overwhelming majority of students don’t want to pay full cost for another semester of Zoom meetings, and that some incoming freshmen who have been admitted to colleges that choose to extend online learning into the fall might defect to colleges that decide to open their campuses.
Colleges that are going with online instruction are playing it safe with the virus but running the risk of losing enrollment—and tuition revenue—to institutions that promise a semester with dorms and classmates and maybe even a little fun.
Read more: Colleges Face A No-Win Dilemma: To Cut Or Not To Cut Tuition?
- Closed cafeterias among early reopen strategies for Chicago businesses
Some Chicago offices are starting to reopen with a limited number of employees who are volunteering to return. As they do, companies are piloting new safety policies to protect workers from a health crisis that shows few signs of waning. The early steps, from practical safeguards to quirky solutions, offer a glimpse at what office life might be like once more companies bring employees back.
Hand sanitizer is everywhere, and certain desks are blocked off to promote social distancing while working. Conference rooms are often off limits, as are dining areas. There are signs on nearly every wall, door and TV screen reminding workers about the new rules.
In break rooms, most companies have cordoned off dining areas and rendered shared refrigerators off-limits. What once was a place where co-workers chatted or jockeyed for fridge space likely will be empty.
“We have closed our cafeteria food service, given the potential for touch contamination, and have limited seating available in the cafeteria,” said Lauren Russ, spokeswoman for Baxter International, which is restricting attendance at its Deerfield headquarters to 20%.
Kraft Heinz’ Chicago corporate headquarters occupies floors 72 to 76 in the Aon Center, and those floors are only accessible through shared elevators. That’s a long, shared ride for an employee to take each time they want to go on a coffee or food run.
“Safely facilitating coffee breaks, snacks and lunch is a crucial component of our return to office planning,” Michael Mullen senior vice president of corporate affairs, said in a statement. “We are considering many different options, from prepackaged foods to delivery options with local food providers.”
Read more: Sticky notes on the bathroom door and wipes by the coffee pot. Employees find new rules as they return to the office.
- Meals in the classroom or outside recommended for Pennsylvania schools
Assigned bus seats, mask breaks and no school lunch lines are all part of the joint guidelines for school reopening announced by the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and Education. While each school district is able to adjust to fit their own needs, these guidelines serve as the most detailed preview provided to Pennsylvania families about how schools will look if they reopen as early as next month.
Goodbye to lunch lines: Students should eat in their classrooms or outdoors, rather than a cafeteria, and have individually wrapped lunches delivered, the state advises. If students must eat lunch in a cafeteria setting, they should sit at least six feet apart and wear masks up until they begin eating. Students should be staggered, rather than sit across the table from another individual.
Schools should consider that because of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, more students may be eligible for free and reduced lunches.
Read more: How should schools look when they reopen? Pa. Department of Education, Health roll out detailed guidelines
- Compass lays off 230 dining workers at Northwestern
Northwestern University’s food service provider Compass Group has laid off about 230 NU dining employees who have been on temporary layoff since March. All laid-off employees will retain their health benefits until Sept. 20 or as determined by their individual collective bargaining agreement, according to a news release.
Social distancing measures, reduced density requirements and guidance coming from federal and state officials are among the complications Compass has cited will impact the on-campus population.
“We are taking this step today as we have recently been advised that Northwestern’s Fall Quarter will see reduced traffic in the school’s food service locations, including retail, catering, dining and concessions across both campuses,” said Vice President of Dining Operations Jennifer Byrdsong in a news release.
Read more: Compass Group lays off 230 NU dining workers
- District suspends summer meals after two staffers text positive for COVID
The Roma Independent School District in Texas is suspending its summer meals program after two cafeteria employees tested positive for COVID-19. Free food bundles, that included breakfast and lunch for an entire week, were available for pick up every Tuesday throughout July until Aug. 18 but because of the two COVID-19 cases among their staff and the continued rise in cases in Starr County, the program will be suspended for the next three weeks.
Read more: Roma school district suspends meals program after employees test positive for COVID-19
Bonus: Fall dining plans and reopen dates for the 25 Food Management Power Player universities
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]