Back to the Future

In the January 2014 issue of School Nutrition, school nutrition directors shared their observations on the evolution of technology in operations. We’ve come quite a way! But a review of magazine archives from the last 50 years offers a different perspective. All the way back in 1964, operators were debating the benefits of providing reimbursable meals to students through automated vending machines! Following are some other “blasts” from school nutrition’s past that may surprise you.

Blast From the Past: 1974
From “College Cafeteria Adds Ripoff Remedy”: “Students who lend meal cards to friends have been costing university and college foodservice programs countless amounts for years. Most schools employ some type of identification check, but the University of Tennessee has blazed a new trail: students are now checked by a machine that matches a student’s handprint with one on his meal card.”
--School Food Service Journal, July/August 1974

From “At-the-Job Training”: “The [Prince George’s County (Md.) Public Schools foodservice department] purchases a lightweight, self-contained projector that enables the instructor to set up and show a film on the spot—on the kitchen work table, in the manager’s office or even in the dishroom. [The department borrows] training filmstrips and overhead transparencies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on sanitation, safety, standardized recipes, using specific pieces of equipment, serving on a cafeteria line and more.”
--School Food Service Journal, March 1974

Blast From the Past: 1984
From “What’s New With Computer-Assisted Meal Applications”: “If school foodservice is to remain competitive as any other business and maintain standards of accountability, modern technological advances must be fully utilized. Computer assistance no longer can be considered a luxury, but rather a necessity.”
--School Food Service Journal, January/February 1984

From “Food Service Megatrends”: Megatrend #2: High technology is matched with high touch. As new technology is introduced, a corresponding human response also is injected. Impersonal technological changes in our society are countered with human (touch) counterbalances. For example, as word processors are used more extensively, so are handwritten notes and letters. As we set up generalized computer information systems, we generate much more specific information about individuals.

Blast From the Past: 1994
From “Bringing It All Together”: In their drive to improve service to students, educational administrators have traditionally ignored such areas as foodservice …, giving more attention to personnel, accounting, payroll and student services. But as pressure has increased on districts in all areas, administrators have begun to reexamine these labor-intensive support functions. It was inevitable that school districts eventually would turn to computers as a way to improve control over these areas. … If there is one area in school foodservice that is a natural for automation, it is menu planning and production. 
--School Food Service Journal, April 1994

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