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Denver Public Schools (DPS) recently broke ground on its new five-acre greenhouse that it says will be the first of its kind in the nation to grow "salad bowl" items for students when it becomes plant-ready next spring.

5 things: Denver Schools to operate its own 5-acre greenhouse

This and a new corporate headquarters shunning adding an onsite cafeteria 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. Denver Schools to operate its own greenhouse

Denver Public Schools (DPS) recently broke ground on its new five-acre greenhouse that it says will be the first of its kind in the nation to grow "salad bowl" items for students when it becomes plant-ready next spring. DPS Food and Nutrition Services team members will start with cherry tomatoes and tomatoes on the vine, then move on to other vegetables and fruits like leafy greens, peppers, cucumbers and strawberries, with any excess produce slated to be sold to other regional school districts and retail/wholesale buyers.

Read more: Denver Public Schools Break Ground on District Greenhouse

  1. New HQ facility shuns in-house café in favor of restaurant partnerships

Instead of an in-house cafeteria to feed employees, the new OSF HealthCare headquarters in downtown Peoria, Ill. will feature two locally owned restaurants open to the public—the third area location of the Great Harvest Bread Co. chain, and a new restaurant called Saffron Social. “We intentionally made the decision not to put a cafeteria in the building,” says Jim Mormann, CEO of Integrated Solutions at OSF HealthCare. “It is important for our mission partners (employees) to get out into the community to take advantage of the services out there, so we did not want to get into a situation where OSF had in-house cafeteria services. We felt like it supported downtown, and the local businesses downtown.”

As hybrid and remote work schedules continue to erode onsite employee counts in offices, companies may increasingly look at how much space and other resources they devote to amenities like dining services, and OSF’s decision may be an early sign of a trend toward a more flexible approach that has the added benefit of positive public relations in supporting local businesses.

Read more: No cafeteria at new OSF HealthCare HQ. But it'll have 2 Peoria eateries open to the public

  1. Lack of staff forces university to close one of its two dining halls

The closing of the Tobey-Kendel Dining Room at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) because of a lack of staffing within the university’s dining services has raised concerns among students about the resultant lack of dining options in the central area of campus and the crowding that the closure is producing at Holmes Dining Hall, the only other dining hall on campus. UNC has 16 vacancies among its 60 full-time employees in dining services, and 50 in its 215 student worker positions.

Read more: Meal plan: University of Northern Colorado students react to dining hall closure

  1. High school culinary students fill district’s cafeteria staff gap

The Escambia County School District in Florida, struggling with about 40 vacant cafeteria worker positions, has been filling the gap with culinary arts students from its Booker T. Washington High School as a part of the school’s on-the-job training program that allows students to earn class credit and a paycheck at the same time. “Education is immensely important, but I think having the industry experience to back that is golden," said Culinary Arts Teacher Elizabeth Gilmore. "I think to give them both sides of it is something that is beyond measure.”

Read more: Escambia County culinary arts students step in during cafeteria worker shortage

  1. PwC to allow all employees to work virtually from now on

Major accounting/consulting firm PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) says it will allow all of its 40,000 U.S. client services employees to work virtually and live anywhere they want in perpetuity, making it one of the biggest employers to embrace permanent remote work. A company spokesperson added that PwC isn't planning to make any significant changes to its real estate footprint due to the new policy, but the firm does plan to use its office space differently and in more collaborative ways.

PwC’s decision is significant in that the financial services industry has been among the more conservative corporate sectors about allowing continued remote work due to security concerns, but staff recruitment and retention pressures may be forcing the issue given the growing demand among employees for remote work options

Read more: PwC Tells US Employees They Need Never Return to the Office

Bonus: Zero carbon pledge, local emphasis drive F&B at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena

Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]

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