Controlling costs

Cost of beef, fresh vegetables increased the most.

Schools say their costs for fresh fruits and vegetables have increased the most in the past two years (76% and 79%, respectively). Only 22% of schools indicated that their beef costs have increased, while the remainder of the non-commercial market chose beef (70%) as the product registering their highest cost increase

Schools

For schools, fresh fruits and vegetables are the two food categories in which costs have increased the most in the past two years, while beef cost increases had less of an impact than in other segments. “I think just food costs in general have gone up about 4%,” explains Amy Harkey, director of child nutrition operations for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, in North Carolina. But Harkey finds that as the new school meal regulations mandate the inclusion of more fruits and vegetables, these items are taking up a larger portion of budgets compared with previous years. “The costs are going up because we have to have enough [fruits and vegetables] available,” she says.

Retirement homes/senior living

In part due to higher costs of cattle feed and the impact of drought conditions, operators are seeing an increase in the cost of beef. Those in retirement homes/senior living were significantly more likely than other segments to report beef costs have risen the most in the past two years (92%). “Beef costs have gone up compared to other proteins,” explains David Kasper, director of dining services at Mallard Ridge, in North Carolina. “[But] having a cycle menu like we do, we still have to feed the residents, and all of the other items have gone up also,” he shares. “As a company, we are increasing our food costs to compensate for that.”

Colleges

Although eggs are not a large category for price increases, some colleges did note that the cost has increased. “I believe part is due to the cost of feed for the chicken industry,” observes John Filler, manager, dining and conference services for Harper College, in Palatine, Ill. With breakfast contributing to 18% of sales at Filler’s facility, he has had to cut some egg specials due to the cost increase but maintains the popular, freshly prepared favorites like egg sandwiches, omelets and breakfast burritos. This price increase may also be explained by the incorporation of more locally sourced and organic foods, including cage-free eggs, within college and university dining operations.

In which food categories have your food costs increased the most in the past two years?

Combatting Food Costs 

Overall, 95% of operators have made some adjustments in their operations due to rising food costs. The majority of operators (59%) have made changes in the items they purchase in response to these rising food costs. Colleges were the most likely to have made changes to the items they purchase, with 71% of these operators employing this tactic to combat rising food costs. Schools were the most likely segment to have increased their food budgets in response to rising food costs, with 44% of operators noting a bump in their food budgets in the past two years.

What menu item did you eliminate due to rising food costs?

  • Brisket plate
  • Solid-muscle animal proteins
  • Shrimp
  • Many beef specialty dishes
  • Flank steak
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Dropped from four entrée items every day to three
  • Salmon
  • Moved from a 6-ounce chicken breast to 5-ounce chicken breast 

Cutting Costs

The No. 1 tactic operators use to cut operational expenses is reducing staff hours/positions (48%). Colleges were the most likely segment to employ this tactic, at 64%. Self-operated locations were significantly more likely than contract-managed accounts to cut costs by making fewer items from scratch (19% versus 9%). Overall, 28% of respondents have not had to cut operational expenses.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Dining hall workers at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., have been asked to remove stickers worn in protest of working conditions at the school’s dining halls, The Stanford Daily reports.

School officials say that the stickers with the statement “Respect and a Fair Workload” go against a union-university agreement that states union members may not wear “insignia [with] any message that is vulgar, profane, or disparaging of Stanford, or that results in conflict or disruption in the workplace.”

In a conversation with The Daily, Seth Leibson, senior organizer for SEIU...

Industry News & Opinion

The School Nutrition Foundation has named its five School Nutrition Heroes for 2018.

The honorees were nominated by their peers and then selected by the SNF for helping end hunger for homeless and low-income students and their families.

Those chosen are:

Paula Angelucci, child nutrition director, Colonial School District; New Castle, Del. Anthony Terrell, culinary specialist, Shelby County Schools; Memphis, Tenn. April Laskey, director of school nutrition, Billerica Public Schools; Billerica, Mass. Lynne Shore, food service director, Willamina School District;...
Sponsored Content
spring desserts

From Bistro Collection® Gourmet Desserts.

Consumers and operators alike often associate seasonal desserts with pumpkin pie, gingerbread and candy canes—after all, winter is a season closely associated with indulgence.

But after the winter holidays, when people are hitting the gym and holding themselves to New Year’s Resolution diets, desserts don’t get as much attention. For operators, this can mean a lag in sales of sweets—but it’s not a lost cause. Updating springtime dessert menus to reflect the change in what diners are looking for can generate excitement and boost...

Industry News & Opinion

Sidney Central School District in Sidney, N.Y., has received $58,783 from the state to improve its farm-to-school program, The Daily Star reports.

The grant will be used to aid in appointing a farm-to-school coordinator and assistant who will help source local farm products for 10 districts in the region for NY Thursday, an initiative where cafeterias attempt to serve meals made entirely by local ingredients every Thursday.

The funding is part of a $12 million award spread among 12 districts throughout the state by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Read the full story via...

FSD Resources