2014 saw many ups and downs for the onsite foodservice industry. Tempers rose in K-12 foodservice over the latest implementation of rules under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. On the other side of the coin, noncommercial chefs continued showing off their culinary talents, often with exuberant flair (see the University of Minnesota’s 100-course meal below).
1. School food fight
Things got ugly this year as a whole slew of acronyms and government entities (SNA, USDA, Congress and the White House) got into, at times, a rather heated debate about regulations specified in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. School directors cried for help as whole-grain and snacks regulations took a bite out of their participation rates and bank accounts. In the end, Obama signed the 2015 Omnibus Spending Bill, which eased some of the requirements, including sodium reductions and whole-grains.
Senate Passes Omnibus Bill Granting School Meal Mandate Exemptions
SNA's Schmidt Calls on Congress for More School Meal Flexibility
First Lady Vows to Resist School Lunch Reg Changes; UPDATE: SNA Responds
A Good First Step, But What’s Next in School Food Debate?
2. Operations get creative
Much like in Texas, bigger is better in noncommercial. To battle dining fatigue from frequent customers, operators are finding new ways to keep dining venues and menus fresh. Here are just a few examples of operations taking things to the next level.
The Epic 100 Course Meal
Best Special Event: Bayer 150th Anniversary Employee Celebration, Bayer Corp. and Parkhurst Dining
Food Meets Fiction: VA Tech Goes Hobbit Crazy
3. The power of technology
Like so many other aspects in our 21st century world, technology is having huge impacts in foodservice. Cashiers are no longer needed to check out customers and college students can order food online if they don’t have time—or willpower—to shop for themselves.
Best Customer Service: Compass Group at Microsoft
Holy Cross Launches Online Grocery Ordering
Micro-Markets Go Macro
4. Culinary is king
No longer the stepchild to commercial restaurants, onsite operations are being held to a higher standard than ever by their customers. More and more customers have grown up with a steady diet of Food Network shows and even more are simply demanding that their lunchtime (and increasingly breakfast, dinner, snacks and late-night) grub be better and more innovative.
The Freshest Taste of Seafood: A Ceviche How-To
Ramen Noodles Are All Grown Up
That's How We Roll
5. Allergies and special diets
Celiac. Gluten intolerance. Peanuts. Meeting the dining demands of all customers, especially those with allergies or special diets, is no longer a rare occurrence—operators now must have a plan in place to keep their diners safe.
8 Tips to Becoming More Allergy Friendly
Georgia Tech Focuses on Special Dietary Needs
Best Practices for Preparing, Labeling and Serving Gluten-Free