News developments this week hit on the trifecta of foodservice director pain points: minimum wage, renovation costs and budgets for school feeding. Here’s a rundown of the issues invading FSDs’ dreams now.
1. When guests scrutinize renovation spending…or, ‘You spent what on that table?!’
FSDs are used to getting pushback over budgets—but this time, the pushback is coming from students.
A finishing touch to the University of New Hampshire’s $10.5 million renovation of the Holloway Commons dining hall is causing a stir. Last month, the dining hall installed a custom-made communal table where its chefs can do cooking demonstrations. The table includes metalwork using materials upcycled from the original dining hall and LED lighting meant to attract students to dine in the hall.
Quickly, though, word spread of the table’s $17,570 price tag, and many students objected to a piece of furniture that cost about the same as a year of in-state tuition at the school, local media reported.
Amid the backlash, a spokesperson for UNH said the expenditure was wrong and a mistake, despite good intentions. She explained that the school is doing a review to see “what happened and what maybe needs to change to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” The dining hall is keeping the table, however.
2. All three presidential candidates open to minimum wage hike
No matter where you stand on the issue, the amount operators pay kitchen staff and others could be closer to an increase.
Donald Trump told CNN this week that he would entertain the idea of raising the minimum wage and is “open to doing something with it,” a different take from previous statements.
As for the other contenders: Hillary Clinton publicly has called for raising the federal minimum wage to $12 and supports state and local efforts to move the marker higher. Bernie Sanders has been more direct, telling voters he would fight to push the minimum wage to $15 an hour wage over the next several years.
3. Legislation would make it harder to offer free school lunches
A congressional proposal issued last month would change the eligibility requirements dictating which school districts can provide free meals to all students. Currently, under the Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, any school with 40 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch can serve free lunch to all of its students.
Under legislation introduced in late April, that threshold would shift to 60 percent. The School Nutrition Association has said it strongly opposes language to change the threshold for participating in the CEP program, “a program which has greatly benefited schools, students and families.”