Participation decline cited as district looks at going contract

Concord (N.H.) Schools just starting to look at privatizing foodservice.

April 4—The Concord (N.H.) School District is exploring the possible benefits of privatizing its food services, a move that is drawing sharp criticism from employees even in its early stages.

District officials are still researching the idea, and no official decision has been made. Business Administrator Jack Dunn is drawing up a request for proposals that must be approved by the New Hampshire Department of Education before it can go out. He, Superintendent Chris Rath and Director of Human Resources Larry Prince met with a handful of food service employees Thursday to tell them the process was beginning. When the request for proposals is completed, Dunn said it will be shared with the employees. The district looked at privatizing food services several years ago but decided not to do so at that time.

Participation in the district’s lunch programs has been declining, Dunn said, although he did not immediately have numbers. This year’s food service budget is $1.7 million.

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University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., has replaced a fajita bar in one of its dining halls with a superfoods bar, Tommie Media reports.

Aiming to provide more options for athletes and students with dietary restrictions, the new bar offers diners a choice of protein with a variety of toppings, such as beans, fruit, couscous and quinoa.

The superfoods bar has made a few appearances on campus since it was first tried for the school’s football players last summer.

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Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pa., is using robots to help deliver patient meals, BCTV reports.

The eight robots, named TUGs, will be used to transport meals from the hospital’s nutrition services department to patient floors at Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical & Patient Care.

Moving at three miles per hour, the robots will follow preprogrammed routes to the HealthPlex, where room ambassadors will remove room service carts from the TUGs and deliver them to patients. The TUGs will then return to nutrition services with dirty dishes for cleaning.

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Sodexo has partnered with fast casual Blaze Pizza to offer the chain’s signature pizzas, salads, beverages and desserts at select venues served by Sodexo, including colleges and universities.

Bill Lacey, senior vice president of marketing at Sodexo, said that Blaze’s growth in the fast-casual sector drove the partnership. Blaze opened its first unit in 2012 near the University of California at Irvine. Its pizzas are flash fired, cooking in under 180 seconds, according to the chain—a selling point for busy customers.

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