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5 things: Study quantifies benefits of universal school meals

This and more are the things you missed for the week of June 3

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 June 3:

1. Study quantifies benefits of universal school meals

A new study conducted by the University of Vermont has found that universal free meals (providing meals free to all students) has many benefits. While saying that universal free meals have benefits is probably not a surprise, the survey does quantify exactly what those benefits are, and that could be something vitally important to those who advocate for universal free meals in all schools. Here are some of the highlights from the study:

  • 98% of staff at participating schools agreed that free meals reduced financial stress on students and families
  • 81% of officials at participating schools agreed that free meals make income differences in families less visible, resulting in an improvement in social climate in schools
  • 83% of staff at participating schools agree that universal free meal programs make students better prepared to learn
  • The study also said these programs increased the opportunity to add locally grown products into meals.

Read more: A look at the benefits of universal school meals

2. Google contract employees fight back against company policies

Tech giant Google’s employees recently sent letters to three firms that provide contact workers to the company, asking them to end mandatory arbitration, which forces workers, as a condition of employment, to give up their right to sue in court over disputes and instead resolve them in negotiations. That practice, critics say, typically favors employers over employees. One of the companies to which the letter was sent was Bon Appetit, which manages foodservice at some of Google’s locations. The other two, Adecco and CDI, provide staffing for other types of services. In other Google news, The New York Times and Forbes reported this week that Google hired more contact and temporary employees (121,000) than full-time workers (102,000) globally.

Read more: Google’s rebellious employees take aim at contractor firms

3. NY Senate passes plant-based bill for hospitals

The New York State Senate passed a bill this week that would require hospitals to offer patient meals and snacks that are plant-based and contain no animal products or by-products. The bill also requires hospital nutrition departments to list those plant-based options on all written menus and materials. New York isn’t the first state to craft legislation for plant-based meals in hospitals; California passed a similar bill last year. New York’s bill now goes to an Assembly vote. 

Read more: N.Y. Senate Passes Landmark Plant-Based Hospital Meals Bill

4. Students growing watermelons for schools  

Students in West Virginia are growing watermelons for which they have worked out a contract that will have the local school districts purchase them for use in their school meal programs. The program, run by Sprouting Farms, hopes to teach students about food and how it’s grown, in addition to getting them some hard-earned cash.

Read more: Students sell watermelons to school for school lunches

5. The continuing story of lunch “shaming”

Another day, another school lunch “shaming” incident. This time, a mother says her son was embarrassed when a cafeteria worker allegedly threw away his tray when he didn’t have enough money to cover the meal. The student reportedly only had 20 cents in his account, something the mother said she was unaware of.

Read more: Student says he was humiliated by cafeteria worker

Bonus: Getting a food hall education

Contact Becky Schilling at [email protected].

Follow her on Twitter: @bschilling_FM

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