Emerging Trends: November 2013

This month: 524 schools that have dropped out of the National School Lunch Program and more.

Published in FSD Update

> Opportunist eaters

One in five Americans classifies themselves as opportunist diners, meaning they eat on the run and grab something when they have a chance, according to a new report by IRI, a market research firm. These opportunist eaters tend to be younger than those diners who are planners, who eat a fixed amount of meals each day; 46% of opportunist diners are between 18 and 35 years of age. Most opportunist eaters (45%, the largest group) do not make dining decisions based on health, instead eating whatever they want with little regard for nutritional intake and calorie counts. The takeaway for operators: Make sure you have items available at all points during the day and don’t hide the candy.

> Cashless purchases promote unhealthy eating in schools, study says

A new study published in Obesity found that in K-12 schools that accept only cashless payments, students consume more calories than in schools that have cash and cashless options. The researchers, David Just and Brian Wansink of the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs, looked at the amount of calories consumed by eating “junk food” such as candy, desserts and cheeseburgers. The men found that in schools that accept only cashless payments, students consumed 441 calories on unhealthy food, 63 more calories than students at schools that offer cash and debit card payment options. 

> Minnesota to pay schools for breakfast boost

Schools in Minnesota will be monetarily rewarded for increasing breakfast participation under a new promotion between the state of Minnesota, Hunger Free Minnesota, the Midwest Dairy Council and the Children’s Defense Fund of Minnesota. The Minnesota School Breakfast Challenge will give the 30 schools that have the largest increases in breakfast participation 10 cents for every additional morning meal served above last year’s number.

 > 524

The number of schools that have dropped out of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) since implementation of the new meal pattern regulations last year, according to the USDA. That represents one-half of one percent of the schools that are on the NSLP, about 100,000 schools. Ninety of the 524 schools that dropped the federal meals program say they did so specifically because of the new meal pattern regulations. Eighty percent of schools on the NSLP said they have already met the new meal requirements. 

> 73%

The percentage of consumers who said freshness was very important when looking to eat healthfully, according to research conducted by Technomic for American Express’ Market Briefing. Ninety-six percent of respondents rated freshness as either a somewhat or very important attribute to healthful dining, making freshness the No. 1 signal of healthfulness. The next attribute, with 82% of respondents saying it was somewhat or very important, was minimally processed.

> $25 billion

The yearly cost of children’s food allergies in the United States, according to a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics. The figure includes purchasing allergen-free foods, costs associated with placing children in allergy-sensitive schools and wages lost or given up in order for parents to accommodate their child’s allergy. 

> 5

The number of years Amtrak says it will take for the company to break even on its foodservice program. The transportation giant loses about $80 million each year on its dining program. Amtrak hopes consolidated management and automating ordering systems will help the company reduce theft and losses.

 > 25%

The increase in breakfast participation in schools that have implemented the Community Eligibility Option (CEO), which allows schools that have at least 40% of students eligible for free or reduced priced meals to offer breakfast and lunch free to all students, regardless of payment status. CEO isn’t available to all states yet; 10 states and the District of Columbia have the option of joining the program. All states will be open to CEO beginning in the 2014-2015 school year. Districts also saw a boost in lunch participation after joining CEO, accounting for a 13% increase in students eating lunch provided by schools. 

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Risley Dining Room at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., has just become 100 percent gluten-free, 14850.com reports.

For the past two years, the university has slowly phased out gluten in the dining hall’s menu by eliminating it in its stir fries, biscuits and brownies.

Instead of offering gluten-free versions of typical college fare, including pizza and pasta, the dining service team aimed for more sophisticated restaurant-style items.

Along with being gluten-free, Risley is also peanut free and tree-nut free.

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James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., recently hosted a weeklong program called Weigh the Waste, which aimed to show students how much food gets wasted in dining halls, The Breeze reports.

Throughout the week, students placed food they were about to throw away on a scale located near the trash bins at one of their dining halls. At the end of the week, the school tallied the waste and saw that 817 pounds of food had been wasted.

School officials hope that the annual program, which it’s hosted since 2015, will remind dining hall patrons to only take as much food as...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Maryland will begin offering weekly specials at all of its dining halls this semester, The Diamond Back reports.

The weekday specials will allow Dining Services to offer past menu items that students miss as well as new dishes students have been requesting, according to a spokesperson.

Students can find out which specials are being offered each week via dining hall table tents as well as through Dining Services’ social media. During select weeks, the specials may reflect a particular theme, such as Taste of the South.

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brisket beef plate

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Corporate Executive R&D Chef Jeffrey Quasha at Atlanta-based Morrison Healthcare helped launched 50 Liberty Street BBQ microconcept locations throughout the U.S. in December. Due to their success,...

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