Whole Foods Opens First “Dark” Store For Online Orders And Delivery Only
Whole Foods Market, the Amazon-owned grocery chain, has opened its first online-only location in Brooklyn, New York. While the move comes as grocery delivery has soared in recent months, the store had been planned pre-pandemic, according to Whole Foods Northeast president Nicole Wescoe. “We started working on this over a year ago,” said Wescoe, “and it was really an opportunity for Amazon and Whole Foods Market to come together and create this vision for the future of grocery online.” Unlike traditional Whole Foods stores, this “dark” store will not include a prepared foods department and there will not be a pickup option. The store does include familiar aisles and refrigerated sections but it is not open to the public, function more like a warehouse for staff to fulfill orders. Online orders will be delivered with Amazon drivers as well as some bike delivery, according to Wescoe.
Enterprising Vendors Sell Fair Food Despite Cancelled State Fairs
While state fairs have been casualties of the pandemic, concessionaires are going the distance to keep selling sweet, meaty, and deep-fried fair food across the country. In 36 states and the District of Columbia, state fairs have been cancelled, many for the first time since WWII. Lori Lexvold has gone to the Minnesota State Fair every summer for 53 years, and she’s 58. When it was called off in late May, she decided to do something about it. “I got on Facebook one morning and I created a group,” said Lexvold. “I invited about 100 of my friends. I just said, ‘Hey, if you see any food stands around, post it to this page, so we can all go.’” Now the group, known as Fair Food Finder, has gathered nearly 179,000 members and has a Google map of 139 Minnesota vendors as well as an app made by a fan.
Brenda Smith Parish used to open her Crazy Taters trailer at 8 a.m. every Friday during fair season. When she learned that her local state fairs were cancelled for the summer, she opened anyway, sold corn dogs and lemonade, and promoted the food truck on social media. As more and more people arrived, Parish grew her menu to roughly 20 items and made a website called FairFoodFridays.com for preorders. She has now earned nearly as much money as she normally would at the Iowa State Fair, Tulsa State Fair and Des Moines Downtown Farmers’ Market.
Jelly Belly Founder Gives Away Candy Factory In Golden Ticket Treasure Hunt
David Klein, the candymaker who named Jelly Belly jelly beans, has announced a series of scavenger hunts with Golden Tickets, like Willy Wonka’s, and a chance to win the key to a candy factory. A spot in the hunt costs $49.98, which buys you a riddle to help locate the golden tickets that are strung onto necklaces hidden throughout each state in the country. Registration is at www.thegoldticket.com, and each state has been limited to 1,000 participants. California’s registration is already sold out. “You will be looking for a Gold Ticket in the form of a necklace with a tag that includes a code you need to use to verify your find,” said Klein. Winners receive $5,000 and the chance at the grand prize of owning a candy factory. “Our goal is to get people out and about with their families.” The candy factory in the hunt is not the Jelly Belly Candy Company (which is unaffiliated with the contest) but one of Klein’s Candyman Kitchens located in Florida. The grand prize also includes an all-expenses paid trip to a candy-making university.
Chef David Chang Opens Up About His Bipolar Disorder And Depression In New Memoir
Celebrity chef David Chang, founder of the Momofuku restaurant empire, talks frankly about his struggles with bipolar disorder and depression in his new memoir Eat a Peach. “Bipolar has given me the very best of myself as a chef and the very worst of me as a chef,” writes Chang. Throughout the memoir, the chef details his experiences with the disorder, from manic episodes at his restaurants to depressive phases when he wasn’t cooking. “I would ride my bike all over Manhattan, weaving in and out of traffic and blowing through stoplights. There was a New Year’s Eve party that began with Valium, speed, pot, washed down with around twenty drinks, and ended with my falling through a giant glass table,” says Chang. “The ER doctors said I narrowly missed an artery.” Chang is very aware of the critical role therapy has played in his life and in his success. He met his longtime therapist, Dr. Eliot, in 2004, the same year he opened Momofuku.
McDonald’s Faces $1 Billion Discrimination Lawsuit From Dozens Of Black Ex-Franchisees
McDonald’s is being sued by over 50 former Black franchise owners for steering them toward less profitable restaurants and offering fewer opportunities than white-owned franchisees. All 52 plaintiffs were forced to sell their franchise within the past 10 years, and the ex-franchisees are seeking $4 to $5 million in compensation per store. According to the suit filed in a Chicago federal court, McDonald’s directed the Black franchisees to stores in inner-city neighborhoods with low sales and higher security and insurance costs. “Revenue is determined by one thing and one thing only: location,” said James Ferraro, the Miami-based attorney representing the plaintiffs. “It’s a Big Mac. They’re the same everywhere.” .
NYC Extends Fee Caps On Restaurant Food Delivery
New York City officials have extended a cap on third party delivery fees until restaurants can operate at 100% capacity. Even though there is no set date for reopening indoor dining, members of the city council voted on the 15% fee cap to ease the financial burden that is forcing thousands of restaurants to close permanently. “While restaurants are struggling to keep their doors open and continue paying their staff,” said Councilman Mark Gjonaj, “third-party delivery platforms have experienced a surge in use. Their business model continues to thrive under COVID, while restaurants continue to need help.” The current 15% fee cap will only be lifted 90 days after indoor dining resumes at 100% capacity. Food delivery companies such as DoorDash and Grubhub have been lobbying to eliminate the cap. “We continue to have concerns around a permanent cap,” said DoorDash in a statement, “which would ultimately undermine restaurants’ access to reliable delivery services that are helping them stay open and that provide economic opportunity to workers who may not have any other source of income during this prolonged economic downturn.”
Restaurants Are Hiring But Applicants Are Scarce
The U.S. is in midst of the largest unemployment upheaval in 80 years, and yet restaurants are having trouble securing applicants for open positions. Many restaurants have even created new positions such as Sanitation Supervisor. COVID-19 has kept many potential applicants away because restaurants have been targeted erroneously as coronavirus hotspots. For some low-wage restaurant workers, unemployment stimulus checks have also boosted their weekly pay above what they were earning from their previous employers. In response, many restaurant chains have increased their pay offerings, but they’ve still had little success in attracting applicants. “This is the most dramatic shift that’s happened in the modern history of food service,” said Aaron Allen, chief strategist at restaurant consultancy Aaron Allen & Associates. “It’s the first time people have left the industry and decided not to come back.” Flynn Restaurant Group, which operates Taco Bell, Arby’s and Applebee’s locations, reports that its workers are now being paid a higher hourly wage than a year ago at its 280 Taco Bell restaurants. But higher pay may not be enough. Alonzo Rice, a former Burger King cook in Orlando, Florida, has been working odd jobs since his hours at the location disappeared due to the pandemic. “I’m not applying to any restaurant jobs,” he says, because the risk is be too high for the reward.
Food & Wine Names Best BBQ Restaurants In Every State
David Landsel, Senior Editor at Food & Wine, has compiled his list of the best BBQ joints in America. “After decades of research, I feel confident enough to draw up a rough sketch of what the best barbecue in America looks like,” he says. The list includes over 100 BBQ restaurants and has been put together over the course of several years. In Texas, there’s Louie Mueller Barbecue, which Landsel describes as “a national treasure.” Among the top spots in Tennessee, Payne’s Bar-B-Q was opened in 1972 by Horton Payne and is now run by his widow Flora Payne. The Skylight Inn in North Carolina, a longtime favorite for its whole hog barbecue, easily made the list, while relative newcomer in Virginia, ZZQ, began as a backyard pop-up in 2011. Moo’s Craft Barbecue in California, serving Texas BBQ in L.A., brings in lines of people that will wait rain or shine as long as it takes for a taste. And in Chicago, Illinois, the venerable Lem’s Bar-B-Q made the list as well. “After countless dates with modern barbecue, I continue to treasure the whole of the Lem’s experience. I treasure those slabs of hickory-smoked, orange-red spare ribs, those unfussed hot links coming out of the city’s largest aquarium smoker,” Landsel says.
Drive-Thrus Define New Chain Restaurant Designs
The pandemic has reshaped consumer behavior at restaurants with take-out, delivery, and drive-thru orders dominating the methods of purchase. According to industry analysts NPD Group, visits to restaurant drive-thrus grew 26% in April, May and June this year. Increased demand for contactless transactions and off-premise dining has caused restaurant chains like Shake Shack, Taco Bell, and Burger King to plan new formats for future stores. All three restaurant chains recently unveiled plans that feature additional drive-thru windows at new locations. Burger King’s new store format includes up to 3 drive-thru lanes per restaurant, while Shake Shack and Taco Bell feature 2 lanes. The chains also feature contactless curbside pickup areas, and Shake Shack’s contactless pickup will become a permanent feature in all stores.
World’s Largest Fresh Tuna Market In Japan Takes A Nosedive
As restaurants remain fully or partially closed, demand for sushi has plummeted, and the world’s largest tuna market in Tokyo is feeling the pinch. Fresh fish prices decreased 1.5% in the past year, according to government data, but fresh tuna prices dropped even further by 8.4%. “Our sales are down by 60% compared to last August,” said Yasuyuki Shimahara, owner of a Tokyo izakaya bar that specializes in tuna dishes. Tuna imports also fell 18% in the first six months of 2020 compared to the year before, according to finance ministry data.
Food Supply Chains Tighten And World Hunger Worsens
Food banks are trying to keep up with increasing numbers of hungry families around the world, but food distribution during lockdown has created additional challenges. Since the pandemic began, the European Food Banks Federation (FEBA) saw an average 50% jump in food demand from charities. While a large fast-food chain offered the group leftover ingredients, FEBA had difficulty visiting the chain’s thousands of locations to gather the food. FEBA has also had a shortage of volunteers during lockdown.
In the U.S., food banks have struggled to keep up with demand from lines of cars hoping to feed their families. A food bank in Memphis served more than 18,000 people between March and August, 10 times more than it served at the same time last year. According to a government survey, during one week in late July, close to 30 million Americans reported they did not have enough to eat. Lauren Bauer, a food insecurity researcher at the Brookings Institution, says that one in three households with children reported insufficient food supplies for daily needs. Feeding America, which oversees the country’s largest supply chain of food banks and pantries, projects that as many as 54 million Americans could become food insecure before the year’s end, marking a 46% increase since the start of the pandemic. Feeding America has reported a 60% increase in people they serve, and says that four in 10 people are new recipients of food aid.
Food Prices Continue To Rise Worldwide
Global food prices increased for the third consecutive month in August, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). In July, the food price index averaged 94.3 points, while in August the average climbed to 96.1 points. FAO’s cereal price index grew 1.9% in August from the month before and 7% above its value a year earlier, with sorghum, barley and rice prices increasing the most. The vegetable oil price index rose 5.9%, while sugar prices increased 6.7% from July. The FAO cited China’s powerful import demand as a contributing factor in rising prices. Sugar production is also predicted to slow down due to poor weather conditions in the European Union and Thailand.
USDA Announces First Recipients Of Urban Agriculture Grants
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has chosen recipients for $4.1 million in grants and cooperative agreements via its Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. Among the very first to receive the grants, three Planning Projects will receive roughly $1.14 million, while seven Implementation Projects will receive about $1.88 million. The Department also invested $1.09 million in 13 projects that advance and test strategies for using municipal compost and for food waste reduction. In making its selections, the USDA said priority was given to those projects that demonstrated or expected economic benefits. The Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production also prioritized projects that improve accessibility of compost for farmers, pursue food waste strategies, and included multiple collaborators.
USDA’s Market Facilitation Program Leaves Small Farms Behind
In the most recent round of federal funding, U.S. trade aid has mostly benefited large corporate farms, despite the government’s promise to help America’s small farmers. In 2018, when the U.S. trade war with China began, a trade bailout program was instituted specifically to help family farms survive the trade the anticipated reduction in demand for U.S. agricultural products. While direct payments were supposed to help small famers, roughly two-thirds of those payments went to the top 10% of recipients at the start of the year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture records. The top half of recipients received 95% of the $28 billion allocated to the Market Facilitation Program. The top tenth of recipients received an average payment of $164,813. Yet, the average payment for the bottom half of recipients was only $2,469.49. The USDA increased the limit for individual payments from $125,000 to $250,000, however, corporate farms have exceeded that upper limit. The top 1% of the program’s beneficiaries got 17% of total trade relief over the most recent two-month span of payments, with an average payment of roughly $455,600, according to CNBC’s analysis.
Agriculture Department Eases Rules on Feeding Low-Income Students
After pressure from Congress, the Agriculture Department reported last week that it would permit schools to offer free breakfast and lunch to any child or teenager until the end of the year. The move was commended by hunger advocates for keeping children at need fed during the pandemic. The USDA decision was a slight reversal, as the department previously said that when the school year began, districts would only be required to serve meals to students enrolled in the school and would charge students who failed to qualify for free or reduced-price meals. In the spring, when schools were first shut down, the Agriculture Department approved districts to give out subsidized to-go meals to any child or teenager under 19. The change was meant to ease accessibility of meals to low-income children during lockdown. Some districts offered meals at curbside pickup, while others had them delivered at bus stops or directly to students’ homes. Roughly 20 million children in the US typically get free school lunches, and two million more collect meals at reduced prices. Just behind food stamps, the school lunch program is the second-largest nutrition assistance program in the country. Children in households with incomes at or below 130% of the federal poverty level have access to free meals through the program. Children with household incomes between 130% and 185% of the poverty level can access meals at reduced prices with a maximum of 30 cents for breakfast or 40 cents for lunch.
Tyson Opens Medical Clinics At Some Of Its Meatpacking Plants
The Arkansas-based meatpacking company Tyson processes about 20% of all beef, pork and chicken in the United States, and some of its plants have become coronavirus hotspots. In response, the company announced that it is opening medical clinics near seven of its plants, including in Storm Lake, Iowa, and Holcomb, Kansas. The clinics are scheduled to open early next year. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents 24,000 of Tyson’s 120,000 U.S. employees, commended the move. Mark Lauritsen, head of the Union’s food processing and meatpacking division, stated that other meat processors such as JBS and Cargill have already started using clinics at some of their large plants because workers must stand close to each other. In the U.S., at least 17,700 meat plant workers have been infected or exposed to the coronavirus and 115 have died, according to the Union. The families of three Tyson workers in Iowa who died from COVID-19 earlier this summer sued Tyson, claiming they knowingly endangered employees at the start of the pandemic. Until the medical clinics are operational, Tyson has hired nurses to conduct coronavirus tests every week. Company officials estimate that less than 1% of its workforce is currently dealing with active cases.