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 July 13:
- School re-openings face a budget crunch
As school district leaders across the country try to figure out when and how they can have students safely return to classrooms, the bite the coronavirus outbreak has taken out of state and local tax revenues hangs heavy over their plans. Reducing class sizes, hiring additional custodial and nursing staff, and purchasing goods like disposable gloves and masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectants are all factors that could run up costs.
At the same time, states, which typically funnel money to K-12 schools, are facing budget crunches as revenues are down and the virus response drives up their own costs. Local property taxes also provide a substantial funding source for school districts, and another concern is that homeowners and businesses could miss payments as the virus outbreak and the economic disruption that it is causing drag on.
“How to cover the escalating costs as state revenue is declining,” said Michael Pagano, director of the Government Finance Research Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, “I think that's going to be the big dilemma for school districts.”
- Aramark forms diversity council, names chief diversity/sustainability officer
Aramark has announced that it has formed an Executive Diversity Council led by CEO John Zillmer and board member Calvin Darden and has named Ashwani Hanson to the new role of chief diversity & sustainability officer. Hanson is currently senior vice president of human resources for Aramark’s U.S. Food & Facilities business.
The Executive Diversity Council “will provide strategic focus and direction to advance diversity, equity and inclusion among its employees, client partners, customers, suppliers and communities,” the company said in its release. In addition to Zillmer and Darden, it will also include Hanson, Executive Vice President-Human Resources Lynn McKee, COOs Marc Bruno, Brad Drummond and Carl Mittleman and the vice presidents of human resources & diversity for their respective businesses.
- NC State outlines fall dining procedures
On July 13, North Carolina State Dining invited select faculty, staff and students to a rehearsal run at Fountain Dining Hall to test their COVID-19 safety plans for the fall semester. NC State Dining worked to emphasize social distancing measures, as well as cleanliness during this run through. Dining has also made changes to campus retail restaurants, so students can place orders on the Grubhub app to limit interactions.
Among the new additions are different colored lines on the floor of the dining hall that students must follow for a specific food option, and once a student enters the dining hall, they must tell the cashier if they are dining in or taking food to go. If eating in, a student must present their Wolfpack One Card and tap the register to pay. If taking food to go, a student must also take a reusable green container to put their food in.
In the seating area, some tables are blocked off and cannot be used to ensure social distancing between students. Students may also sit outside on a picnic table underneath the new tent that dining has set up.
Meanwhile, students may only order food from select campus retail restaurants through GrubHub and touchless payment, then go to the locations to pick up their food. Menu options will be available on the GrubHub app in order to make the ordering process easier.
- Companies ditching real estate expenditures for more flexible arrangements
In the tech hubs of Seattle, Silicon Valley, New York and elsewhere, many CEOs are coming to the same conclusion—real estate is not a worthwhile expense, which implies that neither is onsite foodservice at those offices. According to this extensive analysis, start-ups that never intended to be fully distributed are letting leases end or looking for ways to get out of longer deals, while bigger employers are closing facilities, consolidating space and exploring ways to provide workers with flexible arrangements and options closer to home to avoid long commutes.
In May, the CBRE commercial real estate firm was predicting about a 7% drop in office rents per square foot from the first quarter to the fourth quarter. It expected vacancy rates to rise as high as 14.9% in the first quarter of 2021, up from 12.3% in first three months of 2020. Since then, the number of COVID-19 infections in the U.S. has skyrocketed, and states including Florida and Texas continue to see daily record highs.
Facebook, Twitter, Okta and Box are among the tech companies that have announced a more permanent shift to a hybrid approach. Many others are likely to follow as extended school closures or shortened days make remote options essential. Officials in Los Angeles and San Diego announced on Monday that schools will start online-only in the fall.
- White Castle to adopt burger making robot into units
In a possible preview of things to come, the White Castle hamburger chain has announced a planned pilot with Miso Robotics, creator of the Flippy autonomous grilling and frying kitchen assistant, to accelerate the adoption of artificial intelligence and robotics in the restaurant industry. As part of the deployment, White Castle will bring the new version of Flippy, Robot-on-a-Rail (ROAR), into kitchens for testing and future integration. The deployment will put autonomous frying to work for enhanced production speeds, improved labor allocation and an added layer of health and safety in the cooking process, the chain said in its announcement of the initiative.
Flippy ROAR will deploy later this fall. The deployment will test speeds in production, taste, quality and operational optimization with backend POS integration. Following integration, Flippy ROAR's zero-footprint design will be tested to improve employee and food preparation, for wider location integration.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]