> Workers’ Hours Cut to Meet Obamacare Rules
Two school districts announced changes last month to their employee benefits as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Lexington Public Schools, in Nebraska, is increasing foodservice workers’ pay, while at the same time reducing hours. The moves will be budget neutral, according to an article in the Kearney Hub, but because workers will now work fewer than 30 hours per week, the district will not have to offer them health insurance benefits. The district’s six lead cooks will continue to receive health benefits and work the same number of hours they currently do.
Southern Lehigh School District, in Center Valley, Pa., is also taking the hour-reduction tactic with its foodservice employees. However, unlike staff in Lexington, these workers will not receive a bump in pay to cover the lost hours.
> $19.7 billion
The amount of food, beverage and related purchases that foodservice operations (non-commercial and commercial) made in 2012 through group purchasing organizations (GPOs), according to a new study by Technomic. Expect that number to increase, Technomic says, because the scope of GPOs is growing. Between 2009 and 2012, foodservice purchases made through GPOs significantly outpaced those made through non-GPOs.
> Schools Feeling Heat from New Regs
Two school districts are making program changes after seeing their participation—and revenue—drop after making changes to meet the new school regs.
The Catlin Community School District, in Illinois, has dropped out of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), saying the new rules were too restrictive, increased the amount of waste and left students hungry. The district is instead asking parents, staff and the community to complete a survey to help the foodservice department create a new lunch menu for next school year. The department also is increasing the price of meals to help cover the lost reimbursement that comes from being on the NSLP.
A $30,000 cafeteria renovation at Bellingham High School, in Massachusetts, was put on hold after the district lost around $20,000 in revenue this year as a result of the new school meal regulations. “My incentive for doing [this renovation] was to provide a more expedient service for students,” Jeanne Sheriden, director of foodservice for the Bellingham Public Schools, said in The Milford Daily News. “We had no guarantee if we spent this money that it would increase revenue.”
> Adding Revenue Streams
When the foodservice department at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, in Lewiston, Maine, was looking for an additional revenue stream, it turned to take-home meals. Unlike other hospitals that offer this service, which is often used by hospital employees, St. Mary’s take-home program has a much greater reach. Across the street from St. Mary’s are 128 apartments for the elderly. Dennis Bouyea, general manager with Metz Culinary Management at the hospital, says many of the apartment’s dwellers take advantage of the take-home program, which hospital staff also appreciate.
The department serves between 3,000 and 3,500 take-home meals and between 4,000 and 4,500 to-go sandwiches each year in the home meal replacement program. The program, which started in 2009, has grown so much in popularity that Bouyea needed to expand the options to keep up with demand. This year, he added some new choices, including entrée salads. Customers can either pick up ready-to-eat meals like sandwiches or they can grab a frozen option, which consists of an entrée, vegetable and starch in a three-compartment microwavable container. Bulk items of entrées like lasagna are also available. Most items are priced between $2.75 and $4.50.