Each Friday I compile a list that highlights five things you probably missed in the news that week and why you should care about them.
Here’s your list for the week of April 2:
1. More than one-third of college students are food insecure, says study
A recently released study by the Wisconsin HOPE Lab found that 36 percent of college student were food insecure in the last 30 days, and 36 percent of college students were housing insecure in the past year. Sara Goldrick-Rab is the director of the Lab, and I spoke with her last month for a presentation on food insecurity and college dining programs at the Continental/Pacific NACUFS Regional Conference. Goldrick-Rab said this was the first national study that looked at food insecurity in college students. She said that while we’ve been studying college students since the 1970s, we’ve never asked questions about food insecurity. “We can’t say for sure that this [food insecurity among college students] is a bigger problem than before, but I do caution people in saying that the conditions have changed so that it would make sense that more people would be affected.”
Read more: Still Hungry and Homeless in College
2. Massachusetts releases report on unpaid meal accounts
The Massachusetts Law Reform Institute released a report on the state’s unpaid meal policies. Among the results: more than one-quarter of the 124 districts included in the survey that had 20 percent or more students qualifying for free or reduced-priced meals did not have their policies posted in a publicly accessible area like a district website and that the majority of elementary schools have a cap on how much a student can be charged before receiving an alternative meal. Unpaid meal policies have come under fire in the past several years, with many calling those policies “lunch shaming.”
Read more: Unpaid school meal policies deny food, shame children, statewide report says
3. College cuts $600,000 from dining as enrollment declines
Following several years of declining enrollment, the dining department at Western Illinois University is cutting nearly $600,000 from its program. Many of the cuts will be made in reducing hours at the campus c-stores and dining halls. Reducing hours at the c-store is expected to save more than $200,000 next year. One c-store will also no longer serve breakfast, as the university found that only 18 percent of students made a transaction during that daypart.
Read more: University Housing & Dining Services making $600,000 in dining cuts next year
4. Boston schools expand fresh program
It’s no secret that many schools no longer have working production kitchens, and in Boston, that accounted for about two-thirds of the district’s 125 schools. So a few years ago, the district, with the help of a foundation, started implementing a fresh-food program called My Way Café (link: http://www.food-management.com/k-12-schools/boston-schools-moves-scratch-cooking) at some of the city’s schools. Now, the program is being expanding to an additional 12 schools as the city works to build up the program and improve its perception.
Read more: Boston schools’ fresh food program expands
5. Rutgers brings back “unhealthy” takeout items
Last year, Rutgers University eliminated some items that were deemed unhealthy in a bid to better comply with standards of Menus of Change. Now, the dining program is bringing some of those menu items back, saying students wanted choice. The new menu still includes those healthier options like a mushroom burger, but it now includes other items like beef burgers and chicken nuggets.
Read more: Neilson takeout brings back old favorites in move to diversify menu
Bonus: Food Management now accepting Best Sandwich nominations
Contact Becky Schilling at [email protected].
Follow her on Twitter: @bschilling_FM