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Did someone say free food? Companies are getting creative with WFH perks

Did someone say free food? Companies are getting creative with WFH perks

Free food at the office used to make a stressful day better.

But with so many employees still working remotely, how can bosses show their appreciation?

I asked companies what they are doing to keep the office culture alive in a virtual world.

E-commerce checkout company Fast said it’s sending gift cards to employees for a weekly team meal, along with a weekly snack box.

Another company, UKG, which offered its working parents a virtual summer camp for their kids, is now offering after-school help this fall. It’s a win-win situation: kids are entertained, while parents get a break so they can be more productive at work.

And San Francisco-based Splunk is offering an extra 30 “pandemic days,” to give workers extra time to care for themselves and their family.

Click here to read about more creative perks companies are offering.

Dropbox is going remote …. kinda

Dropbox says it’s becoming a “virtual first” company.

So what does that mean?

Employees will work remotely the majority of the time to focus on their individual work, but they’ll go into the office for more collaborative events, like strategy sessions, team building and training.

To do that, the company is going to revamp its current office space: no more individual desks. Instead there will be more collaborative and meeting spaces.

Teams will agree on dates for when they will be in the office together.

I asked Melanie Collins, vice president of people, why the company isn’t taking a hybrid approach where workers choose when — or if — they come into the office. She explained that the hybrid model could create an unlevel playing field that favors in-person workers.

“We had reservations on this model because it perpetuates two very different employee experiences that could result in issues with things like inclusion

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Play with your food? Kraft Heinz and Big G Creative now selling a new variety game pack at Target

Play with your food? Kraft Heinz and Big G Creative now selling a new variety game pack at Target

This new Kraft Heinz product might be non-perishable, but don’t plan on storing it in the pantry.

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Kraft Heinz has teamed up with game publisher Big G Creative to create a set of three games inspired by iconic food brands Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Heinz Ketchup and Jell-O.

The Kraft Heinz Variety Game Pack is now for sale at Target and Target.com, Big G Creative shared exclusively with USA TODAY. It will normally sell for $19.99 but through Oct. 17 is on sale for $16.99.

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“As more families are spending a lot of time at home, they’re looking for more things to do, new games and activities,” Steven Anne, creative director at Big G Creative, told USA TODAY. “When I think of Kraft Heinz I think of them bringing playfulness to the dinner table and we really wanted to bring that same spirit and the look of the games themselves.”

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Puzzles and games have been popular items amid the coronavirus and early on in the pandemic, there were shortages of the toys.

The games – the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Game, Jell-O Jiggler Slap Game and Heinz Ketchup Dice Game – also look like the food packaging.

Each game takes about 20 minutes to play and is recommended for ages 8 and older. 

There’s an easy way to get a headstart in each of the games. The player who most recently ate Jell-O or the pasta dish or used ketchup goes first, according to the

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Conroe breweries get creative with kitchens, food options

Conroe breweries get creative with kitchens, food options

Gov. Greg Abbott finally had some good news for local breweries.

On Wednesday, he announced that bars could open at 50 percent on Oct. 14 at the discretion of each county judge. To which Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough said “I’m in 100 percent.”

Local brewery owners say this is a step in the right direction after so many months of uncertainty.

Local bars closed immediately in March, then were closed through May 1, opened for a month to three weeks and have been closed again since June 26. In the state of Texas craft breweries fall into the same categories as bars when it comes to their regulations.

This designation left local brewers with more questions than answers about how to keep their businesses afloat.

Over the summer, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission changed its rules allowing breweries to reopen if less than half of their sales came from alcohol and they offered dine-in food options.

To keep the beer flowing, Conroe area breweries shifted their models to be able to serve food and meet this requirement.

This has spurred both Copperhead Brewery and Southern Star Brewery to open kitchens as a part of their operations.

Even with bars reopening on Wednesday, they are both still moving forward with the plans to have kitchens onsite.

Hoppy Kitchen


Copperhead Brewery near downtown Conroe has been in business as a family run operation since 2015.

Mark Earnest is the president and his son, Seth, is the head brewer. Seth’s wife, Alicia, is the Chief Operating Officer.

Mark Earnest has been in Conroe since 1977 and has owned several businesses. He paints a dire picture of the brewery’s predicament since March.

He said they were at about 25 percent of their normal business as of last week.

“Our distributor has picked up

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Kroger to launch two ghost kitchens as food chains get creative during coronavirus

Kroger to launch two ghost kitchens as food chains get creative during coronavirus


Kroger

Kroger Co. said Thursday that it will launch two ghost kitchens at stores in Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio through a partnership with ClusterTruck, a company that launched its first kitchen in 2016.

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A ghost kitchen is a cooking space that prepares food for delivery or to go.

Ghost kitchens have grownmore popular during COVID-19 as restaurant dining rooms have shuttered, customers have grown cautious about eating indoors, and online ordering has gained customers.

Kroger (KR) is also an investor in ClusterTruck, though the grocery giant did not disclose all of the financial details of the partnership.

Kroger and ClusterTruck piloted kitchens in Dec. 2019.

See: Online grocery sales will skyrocket but margins take a hit, analysts say

Each of the new kitchens will be about 1,000 square feet, and the menu will consist of about 80 meals that Kroger describes as “quality you can get at a sit-down restaurant with the personality of street food.”

Kroger says the expanded partnership comes after the grocer experienced a 127% rise in digital sales during the second quarter.

ClusterTruck’s delivery process is aided by technology to ensure that meals are delivered to the customer within seven minutes of preparation and within 30 minutes of ordering.

Orders are placed through the ClusterTruck app or on that company’s website and can be delivered to a customer’s home or picked up at a participating Kroger store.

Menus will be branded with the ClusterTruck name, though Kroger will provide some in-store promotion.

“As part of the Restock Kroger initiative launched in 2018, Kroger has prioritized offering new prepared fresh food options and developing new ways for customers to engage via e-commerce,” a Kroger spokesperson told MarketWatch.

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“Our insights tell us that

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