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Universities may keep food outlets closed until January 2021

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Universities around the UK may not reopen food outlets until January 2021, according to a poll carried out by The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO).

60% of those surveyed said they were planning to re-open more than half (60%) of their food outlets by September, while 78% didn’t expect to re-open more than half (60%) of their outlets until January 2021.

Bars were lower down the list of priority for reopening with 41% planning to re-open 60% of bars by September and a further 11% (51%) not expecting to open the majority of their bars until January 2021.

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The impact of Covid-19 has also seen several universities pivot to expand on the services they can offer.

This includes 68% who are planning on operating a click and collect service, where they didn’t pre-Covid-19 and 48% who are planning to offer pre-prepared meals, snacks and food to go/takeaway where they didn’t pre-Covid-19.

Mike Haslin, CEO of The University Caterers Organisation, said: “We’ve seen incredible resilience from our members in pivoting their services to meet the increasing challenges the industry has faced as a result of the Coronavirus.

“It is heartening to hear so many are now able to re-open outlets in September which will bring much needed funds back into campuses.

“It should also be noted that although a high percentage won’t be opening food outlets until January this may only represent a fraction of the catering outlets on their site, and they may alternatively be offering other takeaway options to students.”

This latest poll follows on from surveys conducted during various webinars held in June by TUCO.

In these webinars on ‘The future of catering in the new normal’ 80% of the 157 universities polled during the recording said they expected to offer takeaway catering if social distancing measures continued.

In response to catering provision, many of the universities discussed how they had seen an increase in external takeaway vendors coming onto campus and were planning to target the takeaway market to boost income streams within universities.

According to polls carried out previously, universities anticipate achieving approximately 50% of catering sales for 2020/2021.

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Tags : educationresearchTUCOuniversities
Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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