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USDA waives penalties for shortage-based school meal violations.

5 things: USDA waives penalties for shortage-based school meal violations

This and Boise State Associated Students seeking damages from Aramark for dining shortfalls are some of the stories you may have missed recently.

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:

  1. USDA waives penalties for shortage-based school meal violations

USDA has issued a new waiver to protect school meal programs struggling to procure foods and supplies from being financially penalized if shortages prevent them from meeting certain federal regulatory requirements for school meals. The move was praised by the School Nutrition Association (SNA), which had alerted USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to challenges in the school nutrition industry this past summer, citing its Back to School 2021 Survey of school meal program directors, which found 97% concerned about continued pandemic supply chain disruptions such as canceled orders, food and supply shortages, product substitutions, price increases, and delayed or canceled deliveries, often with little or no advance notice.

"SNA greatly appreciates USDA’s action to ensure schools can focus on serving students nutritious meals without worrying about losing federal reimbursements if they fail to complete production records or meet one of a multitude of meal pattern requirements,” commented SNA President Beth Wallace on the USDA's new waiver.

Read more: Waiver to Allow Fiscal Action Flexibility for Meal Pattern Violations Related to COVID-19 Supply Chain Disruptions Impacting School Meals in School Year 2021-2022

  1. Student group seeks damages from Aramark for campus dining shortfalls

In a possible early sign of what could develop into a larger trend resulting from staff and product shortages that could affect multiple campus meal providers, the Associated Students of Boise State University (ASBSU) is seeking damages from Aramark for meal services students have paid for but have been unable to attain because of the closure of some campus dining locations and limited hours at some others, which it says has had a “devastating effect on students’ basic needs to access food service.” According to the resolution, damages could include meal equivalencies to be used at other retail locations, an additional $25 flex dollars per week that the SouthFork Market venue is closed and a partial refund to weekly meal plan holders in the amount of 50%.

Read more: ASBSU condemns Aramark for restaurant closures due to staffing issues, seeks damages

  1. Flatware shortage forces Dallas ISD to go to more finger foods

The Dallas Independent School District, one of the largest public districts in the country, has notified parents that it would be adjusting school cafeteria menu offerings due to supply chain delays in flatware supplies, implementing a program to reduce the use of flatware related items in schools by offering finger foods on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The modified menu means instead of salad, cafeterias may serve veggie sticks and instead of spaghetti, the farewell consist of items such as burgers, baked fries and pizza.

Read more: Dallas ISD to modify cafeteria menu offerings due to supply chain issues

  1. Staff shortage forces hospital to close cafeteria retail meal service

Staffing shortages that potentially will be exacerbated by the state's vaccination mandate for healthcare facilities is forcing Thompson Health, which operates a hospital and continuing care facility in Upstate New York, to shut down retail foodservice. “Our cafeteria will be strictly operational to feed our patients and residents," President/CEO Michael Stapleton has announced. "We no longer have the staff to feed our associates and visitors.”

Read more: ‘Breaks my heart’: Local hospital reacts to potentially losing workers over vaccine mandate

  1. Former Guckenheimer COO George Maciag passes away

George Maciag, former COO of Guckenheimer Enterprises (now FM Top 50 firm ISS Guckenheimer), passed away Aug. 31 at age 86. Initially an executive with pioneering contract firm Saga Corp., Maciag was a key figure in the growth of Guckenheimer into the largest independent provider of contract food services to the corporate dining market after he joined the firm in 1987 and a major influence on the expansion of the high-end corporate dining services market. In 2008, he contributed a column to FM on the contradictory nature of onsite foodservice as both a manufacturing and a service industry that continues to have relevance to this day.

Read more: Obit: George Maciag

Bonus: Scratch-made meals are on the menu to support kids’ mental health

Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]

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