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:
- Aramark’s U.S. Food & Support Services unit sees 30% Q2 drop
Aramark reported revenues of $2.8 billion for its second quarter of fiscal 2021, a 24% decline from the prior year. The U.S. Food & Support Services (FSS) unit had revenues of $1.551 billion, a 30% decline over the same period.
Among individual market segments for U.S. FSS, the company reported more students entering in-person learning environments compared to the fall in its K-12 operations while Higher Education implemented enhanced on-campus experiences that included additional meal flexibility and digital innovation.
Sports & Entertainment hosted fans at partial capacity based on local regulations while Leisure maintained steady performance with solid early attendance at National Parks and Corrections reported year-over-year growth. Both Sports & Entertainment and Leisure prepared for increased levels of activity, including greater fan attendance in MLB and record reservation demand in recreation, respectively.
Business & Industry saw additional client locations opened throughout the quarter while companies adopt evolving return-to-work strategies. Healthcare saw gradual improvement as visitor restrictions eased and elective procedures increased. The company said it also created unique automated patient-care experiences from time of admission through discharge to provide ongoing dietary needs.
Read more: Aramark Reports Second Quarter Earnings
- Permanent universal free school meals bill introduced in Congress
The Universal School Meals Program Act of 2021 introduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate would permanently provide free breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack to all school children regardless of income, eliminate school meal debt and incentivize local food procurement.
It was immediately endorsed by the School Nutrition Association (SNA), with SNA President Reggie Ross saying that "Children shouldn’t have to worry about meal applications or whether they have money on their accounts so they can eat. We want school nutrition staff to focus on serving students equally without losing time and money on processing paperwork and determining which children are eligible for meal assistance. Now that we know children are getting their healthiest meals at school, it’s time to encourage students to give them a try by eliminating long-standing barriers for children who need a healthy school breakfast or lunch, but don’t take one due to stigma or financial concerns.”
Read more: NEWS: Sanders, Omar, Gillibrand, and Moore Seek to Expand and Make Permanent Universal School Meals
- Syracuse to offer unlimited meal plan this fall
Syracuse University (SU) will offer semesterly and unlimited meal plan options instead of weekly meal plans starting the 2021-2022 academic year. The “block” meal plan will give students a set number of meals for the entire semester, according to an SU News release, with three different block plans offered: 220 meals, 130 meals and 85 meals per semester.
Read more: SU will offer semesterly, unlimited meal plan options for fall 2021
- Study suggests regular hospital food could be killing heart patients
A randomized trial of 645 people hospitalized with chronic heart failure in Switzerland found those who were given regular hospital food rather than a personal nutrition plan had an almost doubled risk of mortality within 30 days. The study authors say the findings suggest the lack of nutrition found in most hospital food could be putting the health and well-being of vulnerable patients at serious risk, noting that "our trial thus does not provide evidence for effects of single nutritional components, but rather suggests that the overall strategy of providing nutritional support to reach different nutritional goals during a hospital stay for an acute illness is beneficial for patients with chronic heart failure."
Read more: Hospital Food Is Never Great, But For Some Patients It Means Death
- Staff shortages, hiring struggles driving restaurant automation startups
With restaurant operators across the country reporting steep staff shortages and struggling to hire both cooks and wait staff, startup companies are cropping up to develop and market technology-based solutions ranging from robot baristas and salad makers to fully machine-operated smoothie kiosks that could also eventually migrate from commercial restaurants to onsite dining environments. This article profiles 10 U.S. startups in the restaurant automation space that have raised a few million dollars or more.
Read more: Restaurant Staff Shortages Pique Appetite For Automation
Bonus: Saint Louis Public Schools drive student engagement
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]