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In order to meet the demands of meal operations across the nation's school districts during the pandemic, the Urban School Food Alliance anticipates a total loss of $38.9 million per week.

5 things: Major K-12 districts get funding aid for emergency food distribution

This and Radford University announcing it will reopen in the fall are among the things you missed for the week of April 27.

Each Friday Food Management compiles a list that highlights five things you probably missed in the onsite foodservice news that week and why you should care about them.

Here’s your list for the week of April 27:

  1. Urban School Food Alliance gets emergency food access funding

The Urban School Food Alliance, which consists of 12 of the nation's largest school districts, has announced that it has received grants to jump-start its Student Emergency Food Access Fund and invited other funders to join in supporting them in distributing hundreds of thousands of meals daily to students and their families.

In order to meet the demands of meal operations across the nation's school districts during the pandemic, the Alliance anticipates a total loss of $38.9 million per week according to Katie Wilson, executive director of the Alliance. "Schools have become communities' emergency feeding sites and these districts are operating without any indication of reimbursement for essential costs," says Wilson. "Every one of these schools that has their doors open are literally heroes on the front line."

The Student Emergency Food Access Fund will be deployed to secure transportation equipment to ensure food is safely transported and distributed to families who do not have access to transportation to pick up meals. It will also fund safety and staff support to meet needs for hiring and paying staff overtime and to take necessary considerations to provide staff proper protection. Finally, it will allow the production of suitable meals for grab-and-go models for the full family, as grab-and-go meals require additional resources and preparation to individually package meals and ensure food safety when not eaten immediately.

Read more: Urban School Food Alliance launches Student Emergency Food Access Fund with support from The Rockefeller Foundation and No Kid Hungry

  1. Radford University announces fall reopening

Radford University in Virginia has announced that it will reopen for the fall 2020 semester following the COVID-19 pandemic, joining a number of other schools that made similar recent announcements. The campus reopening will include full operations such as on-campus housing and dining services, followed by face-to-face instruction beginning on Monday, August 24. The university says the reopening process will begin on August 3. Meanwhile, all Summer Session courses will remain online.

Read more: Radford University plans to reopen for the fall semester

  1. What will reopened schools look like?

This USA Today article looked at how K-12 schools might look upon reopening this fall. Among its predictions are students eating lunch at their desks while arrival, dismissal and recess take place on staggered schedules and through specific doors to promote physical distancing. Last week, a draft of new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on reopening the economy recommended that schools place desks six feet apart, serve lunch in classrooms and close playgrounds.

The article paid specific attention to school meal programs, noting that “schools have become a key resource for families needing food assistance, which will likely continue no matter what schooling scenario takes shape.”

However, “breakfast and lunch in buildings this fall will largely depend on how districts weather food and money shortages now plaguing emergency feeding programs that have provided meals to students ever since schools closed.”

Among issues it cites are spot shortages of products like milk, potential replenishment snags, possible labor shortages, budget cuts and social distancing restrictions.

Read more: What schools will look like when they reopen: Scheduled days home, more online learning, lots of hand-washing

  1. Researchers: Price transparency may be a winning sales policy

Researchers from Harvard Business School and the University of San Francisco have found that consumers really appreciate it when stores and businesses are transparent when it comes to production costs. Even if the product costs a whole lot less or more than a customer assumed, they’ll still be more likely to purchase it if production costs are freely volunteered. However, the transparency has to be voluntary. If a state or local law mandates that a business must display such information, they’re not likely to reap the same trust-building rewards with customers.

One of the experiments in the study took place on an unnamed northeastern university campus where in collaboration with the university’s dining services organization, researchers studied the effect of revealing the cost of producing a bowl of chicken noodle soup for a month on students’ buying habits. This meant openly displaying the cost of each ingredient, as well as the total cost.

At the end of the month, researchers calculated that displaying the soup’s costs was associated with a 21% overall increase in the probability of the soup being purchased and a 2.3% to 2.8% probability increase per customer.

Read more: These Harvard researchers just discovered the greatest sales hack

  1. Chinese high school cafeteria puts up plastic shields between seats

Cafeteria operators looking for possible solutions to maintaining social distancing in their seating areas might take a look at this high school in Shanghai, China, which installed plastic shields in the cafeteria that separate individual diners an appropriate amount of distance between each. There are plenty of pictures at the link.

Read more: A New Norm? Shanghai School Puts Up Plastic Shields On Cafeteria Tables For Social Distancing

Bonus: The road ahead for onsite dining: The impact on college dining services

Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]

TAGS: Coronavirus
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