Food banks are bringing local farmers and school districts into collaborative programs that offer benefits for each of them and the communities they serve, leaders at three food banks said during a National Farm to School Network webinar.
The arrangement allows farmers to find new and sustainable markets along with ways to transport crops; food banks widen their community reach and schools get fresh produce for cafeterias and a new curriculum that gives students hands-on learning about agriculture and nutrition.
Phoebe Kitson, program manager for the Chester County Food Bank in Exton, Pa., said the food bank worked with the county park system to create an outdoor classroom where students learn about farming and nutrition.
There is a raised-bed garden program and students grow produce for their school cafeterias and for teachers to use for classroom projects.
The food bank, which has a local farmer on staff, also has land on five local farms where students go to learn about agriculture. (read more…)
It’s been another uncertain year for consumer spending, the strength of the economic rebound, the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act and food trends that may shift dining traffic patterns.
Now eateries are gearing up for the holidays, starting next week when more than 33 million Americans are expected to get some part of their Thanksgiving dinner from a restaurant, according to the National Restaurant Association, which also expects business to boom on Black Friday and again around Christmas and New Year’s.
In tandem with the holidays, the season for giving fast approaches, and restaurants are once again ahead of the curve. Many kicked off the fall by participating in Dine Out for No Kid Hungry in September, a campaign that set a goal to raise at least $10 million this year to further the cause of making sure low-income children have enough to eat.
The effort brings attention to the social good the industry does, but restaurants’ charitable efforts don’t necessarily follow a calendar. (read more…)
Bruegger’s Bagels and Caribou Coffee have been neighbors in several locations for years, but they’ll get even closer in the Minneapolis/St. Paul market today when they open their first two co-branded stores. The test will expand to a total of six stores in the coming months, including retrofitted Bruegger’s and Caribou stores and brand-new builds by both companies next year.
The concept of co-branded units has become more common in the restaurant world in recent years, but the eateries typically combine sibling brands like Yum! Brands’ KFC and Taco Bell. In this case, the separately owned brands bring complementary offerings to the table. “When you’re combining two different products, it can be confusing at first, especially if you’re combining a site but there’s no synergy of thought,” said Claude Bergeron, co-CEO of Bruegger’s parent Le Duff America. “When you’re combining a coffee house and a bagel concept, there’s much more synergy with the products right away.”
Caribou’s story starts with a connection to Bruegger’s — literally. (read more…)
A few new reports paint a picture of the hot restaurant trends for next year, including one not-so-hot prediction that an increased focus on health could lead to fewer restaurant visits in 2014. The report from AlixPartners leads off with the good news — nine months into 2013, restaurant spending has returned to pre-recession levels, the number of restaurants in financial distress is at a record low and inflationary pressures on commodity prices have eased.
Consumers are continuing to focus on food quality when dining out, and that’s where the not-so-hot news comes in. Americans are expected to make fewer restaurant visits next year, but this time the reasons will have more to do with healthy eating than pinching pennies, the study says. That doesn’t mean pocketbook issues are off the table entirely — consumers say they plan to spend less per visit, largely by taking advantage of promotions and deals, the survey says. (read more…)