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:
- Compass North America revenues expected to fall 34% in first half of FY 2021
In an update sent to investors, Compass Group, the British parent of the largest U.S. foodservice contract management company, Compass Group North America, estimates an overall 31% decline in organic revenue for the first half of its 2021 fiscal year, which will end March 31, with North American revenues down 34%, the most of the international firm's three geographic regions. The North American revenue decline did ease in the second quarter, down to 30% from the 36.1% drop realized in the first quarter.
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- Colorado district nutrition director testifies at CNP reauthorization hearing
The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry held its initial hearing on reauthorization of child nutrition programs on March 25, with Jessica Gould, director of nutrition services at the Littleton Public Schools in Colorado, being one of the witnesses testifying. In her prepared presentation, Gould asked that Congress maintain the current flexibilities on sodium, whole grains and milk, noting that “meeting Tier 2 and very soon Tier 3 sodium poses serious concerns for our programs and ultimately students” as it would probably require her program to eliminate dishes popular with students as well as most breakfast protein items and even vegetarian options. “Many of these items are made with legumes or cheese which would have to be cut from our menus,” she testified. “Even our sunbutter and jelly sandwich would not be allowable.” She also asked that the whole grain requirement remain at 50% “because it allows for regional items to be offered and accepted by students.”
- Census Bureau survey shows increase in homeschooling
The U.S. Census Bureau’s experimental Household Pulse Survey shows a substantial increase in homeschooling rates from 5.4% of U.S. households with school-age children in late March/early April 2020, to 11.1% in the first half of October 2020. The research, adjusted to exclude virtual learning through a public or private school, also showed the greatest increase, from 3.3% to 16.1%, in Black households. The trend, undoubtedly affected by COVID-related school shutdowns, may nevertheless continue to impact public school system enrollments, especially if liberalized “school choice” policies such as the one recently passed by West Virginia’s state legislature proliferate.
- Study shows COVID shutdowns caused significant weight gain
People in the United States gained an average of 1.5 pounds per month during pandemic-related lockdowns last spring, according to a study published recently by JAMA Network Open. The weight gain, which occurred regardless of geographic location or any other health problems the study participants had, offers a potential opportunity for onsite dining programs in the post-pandemic period to emphasize healthful diet options to customers looking to get back in shape.
- German firm developing automated meal service units for offices
In a potential early indication of where things might be heading in some corporate dining venues, a German company named Aitme is building a fully autonomous restaurant kiosk intended specifically for office environments that is designed to compete with external food delivery services. The compact (as little as 43 square feet), self-cleaning units can dispense a customized menu of 10 different dishes such as pasta Bolognese, tahini protein bowls and curries that customers order via attached tablet, at the rate of 120 an hour.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]