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How Meal Delivery Presentation Impacts Your Bottom Line

How Meal Delivery Presentation Impacts Your Bottom Line

Here's a little puzzle: What part of the body does a person first use to eat? The answer might not be obvious at first, but people first eat with their eyes. Whether that's in a fine dining restaurant when a plate is placed in front of the guest or when people are at home enjoying the convenience of delivery, presentation that appeals to the eyes by being attractive is an essential part of customer satisfaction and operator revenue. Presentation draws people to food and entices them to select it.

Defining Meal Delivery Presentation

More specifically, the way the food is arranged, the photographs and designs that are on the package, the color and shape of the food, and so much more -- all those elements definitely are part of meal delivery presentation. Just as importantly, the cart or other equipment and supplies on which food is served also contribute to happier customers and more successful operators.

There are some key reasons why food presentation and appearance are so important. For one, when food is attractive, it communicates the message that the restaurant or operation offers quality. Also, meal delivery presentation influences what food customers select. People gravitate toward food choices that are pleasing to the eyes. In addition, presentation enhances customer perception of the food they are getting. Ultimately, all of those affect the bottom line as a result of increased sales.

Meal Delivery Carts

Meal delivery carts can be the perfect solution for successful meal delivery, while at the same time matching the preferred aesthetic. That includes unique colors, designs, and configurations. Various carts from Lakeside are available for hospital room service, steam tables, tray delivery carts, tray starter stations, and curbside & carry out. Those carts provide a great way to conveniently and stylishly deliver many types of food and beverages. Even better, Lakeside's units are sturdy, fast, efficient, and quiet.

Many Foodservice Environments

Lakeside's team understands and serves all types of foodservice environments, including K-12, colleges and universities, B&I, healthcare, hospitals, assisted living communities, nursing homes, rehabilitation homes, and more. The company helps by providing innovative, sustainable, and efficient food service equipment combined with extensive online resources to ultimately help enhance customers' experiences and so much more.

For any business, the goal is to boost the bottom line. There's no doubt about the fact that meal delivery presentation increases sales and improves the bottom line. With so many appealing choices available when it comes to meal delivery carts, there is a smart solution to meet any meal delivery presentation need. The challenge is narrowing down from all those excellent options and choosing the perfect configuration.

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A Quick Look at Supply Chain Issues in School Nutrition

Like in all industries, school nutrition directors are facing far-reaching supply chain issues that are impacting their abilities to serve students. In fact, according to the School Nutrition Association's 2021 Supply Chain Survey, more than 98 percent of districts and programs reported shortages or difficulty procuring menu items, supplies, packaging, and more.

Coupling this trend with current labor shortages (nearly 95 percent of respondents reported staff shortages as a major challenge) and financial hurdles (only half of the schools report reimbursement rates being sufficient for covering costs of service during the pandemic) lead to challenging times for school nutrition directors.

When there's a challenge, there's also an opportunity though. Here are several things school nutrition directors can consider to enhance service during a global supply chain shortage.

START ANEW.

No matter what, school nutrition directors will continue to serve healthy meals to our students. That's what they do. And while scrambling to meet demands with current vendors might be a challenge, it's also an opportunity to search for new vendors who can help provide needed ingredients, supplies, or equipment. For staff, consider ways to ease the burdens on existing employees by streamlining processes or utilizing more efficient systems and equipment.

PLAN AHEAD.

In many school districts, April and May are great times to start planning for upgrades to the 2022-23 school year. Consider new plans for cafeterias and serving lines now, and those upgrades can be demonstrated and installed in the early summer. This puts school nutrition directors on track for the first day of school later in the summer with ample time to make adjustments or to consider custom designs.

ADJUST SERVICE.

Challenging times are also the perfect times for making changes to how service is delivered. For so many districts across the country, moving meals outside or to the classroom has been a pivotal part of keeping kids as safe as possible, minimizing the risks of potential exposure during the pandemic. But serving breakfast to students in the classroom, for example, is also a great way to promote nutritional wellbeing after a global pandemic. With this, many schools are adopting mobile serving methods to deliver breakfast and lunch directly to students in the classroom.

Plan ahead with Lakeside and Multiteria to reduce or avoid supply chain delays altogether.

Lakeside can help you avoid the current supply chain shortages with systems manufactured right here in the U.S. From serving lines to mobile food carts, now is the time to start planning for the coming school year.

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The Top 2022 Trends for Hospitality and Catering

We’re only a few short weeks into the New Year, so it’s a great time to look ahead for the hospitality and catering industries, two segments that have been impacted by the last two years of challenges. But while 2020 and 2021 have been largely focused on ways to pivot to preserve relevance, 2022 will see a return to more pre-pandemic habits with weddings being a driving force.

According to Hospitality Net, hotels and catering businesses can expect a grand return to weddings as compared to previous years, with the number totaling more than 2.5 million. When comparing to previous years, 2021 saw a total of under 2 million, while The Washington Post reported that nearly half of all weddings were postponed in 2020.

The return of the wedding business is great news for caterers and hotels alike, and according to Hospitality Net, there are a few things to consider when developing packages to help entice guests and planners.

YOU STILL HAVE TO CONSIDER COVID.

Make sure guidelines are in place as they relate to masking, distancing, and vaccinations. It’s also important to refine all booking and cancellation policies that could be impacted. In terms of the event itself, outside weddings rose in popularity during the pandemic, and this will likely remain the case for the foreseeable future. Organizations that can handle this trend operationally will be better positioned for more business.

ENCOURAGE FLEXIBILITY ON ALL FRONTS.

From mid-week weddings to the time of day in which weddings are held, it’s important to provide flexibility for today’s guests and planners. As mentioned above, flexibility can also mean where on the property weddings are held. Instead of inside the ballroom, providing access to the lawn is an important option. Likewise, weddings and events are more likely than ever to be smaller, so consider a reduced headcount as part of flexibility.

CONFIRM THE SUPPLY CHAIN.

From the ingredients needed to create a great wedding menu to the equipment required to serve it, now is a great time to reach out to vendors and confirm any potential issues with the supply chain. Not only are labor and shipping interruptions causing delays, but some businesses may not have made it through the pandemic. To begin the year, it’s a great idea to confirm and shore up those relationships.

Are you prepared for the increase in weddings in 2022?

When reviewing the three areas of focus above, one way to prepare for the increase in weddings in 2022 is to ensure you’re prepared operationally. From the need to move wedding and reception locations across the property to the long lead times so many are facing in terms of foodservice equipment, consider upgrading serving solutions before the summer wedding rush is in full force.

Lakeside and our collection of brands provide mobile serving equipment for both food and beverage service, from carts to transfer food from the kitchen to the buffet line to mobile bars for cocktail hour to bussing carts for a quick dinner clean-up. We can also provide solutions with low lead times for operations needing mobile foodservice equipment sooner rather than later.

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Dissecting the Latest Healthcare Foodservice Trends

Dissecting the Latest Healthcare Foodservice Trends

From labor shortages to the impacts of Covid, it’s been a challenging few years for hospital foodservice directors. These hurdles were outlined in the latest version of the Foodservice Director’s healthcare foodservice survey, and there are some clear trends that emerged.

THE IMPACT OF THE LABOR AND STAFFING CRISIS

Much like other industries, staffing is a huge challenge for healthcare foodservice directors, particularly since staff sizes often consist of fewer than 10 employees. According to the 2021 survey, 39 percent of respondents report fewer than 10 workers with 75 percent reporting 25 or less. This can mean that staff is harder to replace, that staff’s headcount has potentially shrunk due to external circumstances, or both. Compare those data points with the beginning of the pandemic. Fifteen percent of respondents reported laying off or furloughing staff due to the pandemic.

The most important statistic, though, relates to the biggest challenges operators faced during the Covid pandemic, with 81 percent reporting staff shortages and illnesses as the biggest hurdle. Coming in second at 71 percent was difficulty in sourcing products.

THE IMPACT OF COVID ON STAFF

As we just mentioned, 15 percent of healthcare foodservice directors reported the needed to lay off or furlough members of their teams. These were some of the unwanted circumstances from the early days of the pandemic, but what about now? The vaccine has created safer work environments, but what about those workers who opt out of vaccination? According to the Foodservice Director, 57 percent of healthcare foodservice operations did not require staff to be vaccinated, while 27 percent weren’t sure yet at the time of the survey, which was in March and April of last year.

THE IMPACT OF COVID WITHIN THE OPERATION AND THE COMMUNITY

One of the biggest challenges during Covid, especially in senior care communities, was to keep residents safe but also engaged. Mental health is such a critical component in senior care operations, so foodservice directors had to do whatever they could to help residents remain part of the community. The most popular method listed by survey respondents was mobile food carts, coming in at 76 percent. Other options included virtual events (59 percent) and virtual cooking classes (12 percent).

In terms of the community, 70 percent of healthcare foodservice directors said they worked with community partners during the pandemic. Individual volunteers from the community were the most widely reported at 57 percent, with local restaurants and local farmers coming in second and third at 52 percent and 28 percent respectively.

OTHER HEALTHCARE FOODSERVICE TRENDS FROM THE PANDEMIC

As we look back over the last two years, the survey data reveals a few other important trends. The first is that waste reduction and sustainability efforts were mostly paused during the course of the last few years, with 63 percent of respondents making that claim.

In terms of menu trends that are dictating future service, there are four important ones. Surprisingly, boosting immunity is the lowest at 23 percent with global cuisines and plant-based menu items emerging more popular at 32 percent and 34 percent. The most important menu trend for the future according to healthcare foodservice directors is portability, with 64 percent stating the importance of mobility in foodservice.

2022: HEALTHCARE FOODSERVICE TRENDS IN CONCLUSION

As we’ve seen, Covid and the subsequent fallouts have had major impacts in healthcare foodservice. From menu direction to patient engagement, one of the most important solutions is a successful mobile foodservice plan that keeps foods fresh and at ideal serving temperatures.

Lakeside and our team of brands can help you find solutions for successful mobile foodservice operations.

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Reimagining “All-You-Can-Eat” in a Post-Covid World

Reimagining “All-You-Can-Eat” in a Post-Covid World

The world is starting to open back up, and so, too, are our beloved restaurants and foodservice establishments.

We're all grateful for this, especially knowing that while it may take some time, things should pretty much return to normal -- eventually -- in a post-COVID world. There is one type of operation, though, that still might look a little different.

Buffets.

Many consumers have stated they wouldn't feel comfortable going back to such open settings that allow anyone and everyone to grab what they want whenever they want. The once-beloved tradition is simply not feasible in current times and may not make a true comeback for years to come. So, how are restaurants and hotels recreating the buffet experience?

PIVOTAL MOVES

While all-you-can-eat is often associated with buffets, it doesn't have to be. Some restaurants have been using this model forever, most notably Korean BBQ service. K-BBQ has gained popularity with the rising trend of Korean cuisine, and this model offers all-you-can-eat servings that are personal to the individual table. Consumers will order from a specialized menu, paying a flat rate and the dishes will be delivered to their table rather than going to a buffet.

This has been shown to be successful in K-BBQ settings and many restaurants are using the method to transition their services. By offering an “endless supply” of selected dishes, customers are able to still get the all-you-can-eat experience without the fear of cross-contamination.

This style of service also requires moving foods from the kitchen to the tableside while preserving safety, freshness, temperature, and quality. With the right food delivery system, operators can not only serve amazing foods but also reduce the potential for food waste by rationing serving sizes.

MOVING THE SOCIALLY DISTANCED LINE ALONG

No restaurant is escaping the transition of re-opening unscathed, and that's part of why many businesses are relying on disposable items so heavily for to-go orders and delivery services. Unfortunately, that's not exactly cost-efficient and adds an extra layer of labor to the daily list of tasks. One solution that vendors are finding success with for maintaining a somewhat buffet-style service is by mimicking cafeteria lines.

Consumers are encouraged to socially distance in lines, but they can experience an almost traditional buffet by moving through an assembly line. While in line, they can choose from pre-assembled plates from the menu or encounter staff-served options that don't require any consumer engagement with serving utensils.

Serving lines and foodservice solutions are a critical component of this type of service. Units that are easy to configure, provide visibility, ease-of-use, and are easy to clean can help make operations more efficient and profitable.

ORDER UP

In addition to utilizing Korean BBQ settings and Cafeteria line styles, buffet models can benefit from ordering directly from the table. This would include a tablet or mobile device that allows customers to quickly review the menu and place their orders. The virtual order is then sent directly to the kitchen to begin preparation and helps create a hybrid of ordering on the go while still enjoying the dine-in experience.

This solution may also assist in offsetting some labor costs, reducing the number of front-of-the-house staff needed on shift. Staff that are serving would focus more on seating customers and delivering orders rather than constantly taking orders and checking on tables.

STAY UP TO DATE WITH THE LATEST FOODSERVICE TRENDS

There's no single direct solution to getting back to normal, and the truth is that the current day foodservice is creating a new normal. With modern-day technology, adjusting to local mandates and re-imagining the industry's day-to-day setup is constantly changing.

Our goal at Lakeside is to keep you informed as well as provide you with serving stations, portable serving carts, serving lines, countertops that bring you innovative solutions for a post-COVID experience. The all-you-can-eat buffet tradition might look a little different from now on, but you can still create that sense of enjoyable engagement for consumers dining with you.

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What to Expect from the Post-Covid Labor Crunch

What to Expect from the Post-Covid Labor Crunch

After laying off a huge number of staff members, the foodservice industry is now struggling to find and hire labor.

In some ways, the shortage in staffing has created a sense of panic in regard to how the foodservice industry and restaurants will move forward. For smaller businesses, it can be difficult to compete with larger chains that are now offering monetary incentives to entice workers. The industry will move forward just like it's always done, and here are a few important factors.

WHY ARE WE FACING A LABOR SHORTAGE?

At the start of the pandemic, many cities mandated lockdowns that shut businesses down completely or dwindled services to curbside pick up and delivery. This had serious impacts on the workforce, with millions of workers being either laid off or furloughed during the heart of the pandemic.

For those who remained, there was certainly the added concern of COVID exposure, in addition to the higher demands foodservice jobs brought over the last year. With so many worried about getting sick and potentially spreading the virus to loved ones, that mentality has continued to some degree up until the present day. Tack on the presence of poor working conditions in some situations, government assistance, and numerous other factors, and the result is an industry now facing a labor crisis. Simply put, the causes cannot be simply put. It's a complex situation with many facets.

In April of this year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 266,000 jobs had been added throughout the economy. While many people have concerns about what to do as businesses re-open, the numbers show that the majority of industries are not experiencing a shortage in labor. It's mostly targeted towards the leisure, hospitality, and foodservice sectors.

WHAT CAN WE DO TO ENCOURAGE HUNTING WORKERS TO APPLY?

Due to the shortage of staff, many foodservice operations are unable to fully open back up and some have even begun to cut back hours to try and offset the frustration. Many employers are having trouble getting people to show up for actual interviews, and when smaller businesses are unable to offer monetary incentives, updating SOP's and providing transparency can help.

People are looking for safe conditions that provide them with reassurance in the workplace. This means being fully open about what you're doing to protect employees. Adding in additional cleaning and updating kitchen or in-house equipment with hand sanitizer stations and more have been key turn solutions to encouraging many workers to ease their way back in.

RELIABLE EQUIPMENT TO HELP EASE THE STRAIN

The labor shortage isn't only impacting the operational process for restaurants. It's leaving the few workers on shift exhausted from overtime and lack of help. Fortunately, digital solutions and technology are making waves in easing the pressure from staff and providing a sense of functionality. Mobile ordering and apps that allow consumers to place orders directly from their table are allowing employees to focus more on cleaning and serving rather than constantly seating or checking on guests. This has offered phenomenal assistance in allowing workers to do their jobs without becoming overworked.

Other options include portable serving carts or pick-up cabinets to assist in providing options for hungry consumers, effectively changing the points of service. This equipment ensures that multiple orders can be taken care of at once, and it provides security to the customers that placed the orders. With the help of durable and reliable equipment, many foodservice operations are gaining some structure again.

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Foodservice Equipment and Supplies for Reopening

Foodservice Equipment and Supplies for Reopening

As the vaccination distribution begins to ramp up, you're looking towards reopening your restaurant or foodservice business. However, you want to do so safely, and you know that Americans will always look at safety differently in the wake of COVID-19. This makes it an ideal time to create a plan for additional safety along with a list of the equipment and supplies you're going to need to reopen with safety as your main focus. 

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Grab & Go Kiosks

Whether you're offering up hot or cold items, these grab-and-go kiosks keep cold items cold and hot food hot. There are several styles and sizes to choose from. You can select a kiosk that comes with shelves above the main heating and cooling section for items that don't need climate control, such as chips, pretzels, or fresh fruit. These shelves can also increase impulse purchases as the customer grabs a bag of chips to go with their cold soda or hot sandwich. You can even have your company name or logo printed on the side.

Mobile Food Carts

Similar to the grab-and-go kiosks, these mobile food carts make it easy for you to offer both hot and cold food offerings except they have wheels to move it where it'll attract the most customers. You can choose among a variety of laminate colors to complement your company logo. The mobile food carts can include custom graphics to use as an advertising source. The cabinets open easily to making cleaning or draining melted ice a snap. A shelf at the end of the cart is a great location for napkins, condiment packets, or plastic cutlery. 

Condiment Dispensers

Buying individual packages of condiments is too expensive unless you're offering to-go only options. Condiment dispensers are easier to clean than leaving ketchup or mayonnaise jars out for customers to use. You can easily fill the condiment dispenser and get back to the work you need to do. With dispensers, you can provide more condiment choices and more available products, so you don't spend a lot of time restocking. Also, dispensers help with portion control. You need to create a system for keeping the parts touched by humans hand cleaned and frequently wipe them down with a sanitizer but it's easier and safer than individual bottles. 

Clear Partitions

In order to protect both your customers and employees, you need clear partitions set up around your restaurant or food service area. You might put up a partition at the point of sale and in between tables and booths. Anything that you can do to keep different people from introducing their germs to others is a positive. When planning on installing clear partitions, you need to put a plan in place for cleaning and sanitizing them. This should become as second nature as wiping down the tables and seats between customers. 

Hand Sanitizer and Disinfecting Wipe Stands

Americans have become very conscious of keeping their hands clean and their surfaces sanitized. By installing either a hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipe stand in your restaurant or foodservice operation, you can provide your customer base with extra peace of mind. Making these products readily available to your clients and customers helps to minimize the transfer of germs and other contagions. These stands are easy to set up and restock with supplies. 

Lakeside is dedicated to partnering with restaurants and foodservice organizations as they reopen safely to the public. We offer a full line of products and equipment to help you keep your company cleaner and safer for your clients and staff.

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The Essential Role of Nutrition in COVID-19 Recovery

The Essential Role of Nutrition in COVID-19 Recovery

COVID-19 forced healthcare foodservice programs to do a complete 180 in how they serve and deliver food. We've heralded the role of food in healthcare and its healing power, but the coronavirus presents new and unheard-of nutritional challenges for dietitians. So how are they using nutrition to help patients as they fight and recover from COVID-19?

Malnutrition already increases the risk of someone getting sick, staying sick, and worse — dying. Add that into a pandemic, and delivering proper nutrition to sick individuals has never been more vital to the recovery process.

COVID Challenges for Dietitians

For starters, the COVID-19 pandemic has put dietitians in an unenviable position when it comes to working directly with patients. Lack of PPE and isolation requirements often prevent dietitians from performing their typical nutrition-focused exams to identify nutritional problems. Relying on telehealth and virtual exams are available for some facilities, but often a reliance on doctors and nurses to provide dietitians with nutritional updates is necessary.

With up to a quarter of COVID-infected people requiring ICU admission, nutrition is essential in the fight against coronavirus symptoms and helping patients recover quickly. Studies show that these ICU patients, who are often put on ventilators for multiple weeks, will become weaker and lose valuable muscle mass.

Nutrition is one of the best kinds of medicine to fight the virus head-on.

Using Nutrition to Fight COVID

A recent Food Management article on patient nutrition discussed both the challenges and strategies to providing proper nutrition to patients infected with the coronavirus. Some obstacles to nourishing COVID-19 patients include the common symptoms like loss of taste and smell or gastrointestinal distress, while other more severe symptoms like post-ventilator swallowing, respiratory issues, and even psychological ailments ranging from disorientation to depression create more obstacles to recovery.

With all the hurdles to providing nutrition to the people who need it the most, how are dietitians helping get these patients back on the road to recovery through the power of food?

High-calorie and high-protein provide a boost in energy and nutrients in each meal. Nutritional supplements and hydration are also key, especially for people with a lack of appetite to ensure they are receiving nourishment, even when they may not feel up to the challenge. Smaller meals are recommended for patients with poor appetites or respiratory problems so as not to force their bodies to become overworked. Even foods with different ranges of spice can help patients dealing with a loss of taste or smell.

Make Patient Nutrition Easier With the Right Tools

Healthcare foodservice programs everywhere are adapting their methods of meal delivery during COVID-19, and Lakeside is here to help you get the tools you need to keep patients, guests, and staff well-nourished. From meal and tray delivery carts for in-patient dining, hydration service, mobile grab-and-go solutions for guests and staff, and handwashing and PPE storage and transport solutions, Lakeside has you covered. 

Lakeside has the COVID-19 Product Solutions you need! Learn about these solutions in our COVID-19 Resource Guide. 

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How the Pandemic is Changing Meal Delivery in Colleges

How the Pandemic is Changing Meal Delivery in Colleges

Step onto a college campus in 2021 and you'll notice a few stark changes from a few semesters ago. First, the students, or lack thereof. In order to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, many colleges and universities have moved to a virtual learning environment or a hybrid of in-person and online classrooms. Second, the staff. Professors, administrative staff, foodservice staff, maintenance staff, and more have all had their normal work routines and hours altered, with some, unfortunately, losing their positions entirely. But one thing that hasn't changed on college campuses is the need to feed students in safe and efficient ways.

WHAT COLLEGE FOODSERVICE DIRECTORS ARE SAYING

At a recent NACUFS Town Hall, foodservice directors from colleges and universities across the country shared the changes, challenges, and opportunities that they were seeing.

STAFFING

While avoiding layoffs was a top concern in regard to staffing, foodservice directors felt that restaurant chains around campus were affecting the ability to hire and keep students on campus. In response to limited staffing, foodservice programs are doing more with fewer team members, with plenty of cross-training and bringing in labor from other departments. Staff training is mostly virtual, and technology limitations affect the quality of training that can be done, with a majority occurring remotely.

SERVING

The biggest challenge right now is an obvious one, and that is feeding students. A number of states prohibit inside dining or limit the number of students allowed in a dining hall at one time. The goal for colleges right now is to get students in and out of the dining hall in under five minutes. That means a serious adjustment in menus and execution. Microwavable meals and grab-and-go items are the primary meals nowadays. While some programs are using reservation systems, others use mobile ordering.

HOW COLLEGE FOODSERVICE PROGRAMS HAVE FOUND SUCCESS

One major shift in how colleges are serving meals during the pandemic is by taking a more retail approach to campus dining. Members of the Town Hall echoed similar sentiments, saying all you can eat dining has changed into retail only. The grab-and-go method of meal service has proven to be an effective one at mitigating contact by limiting the time inside the dining hall. One approach to a more traditional, pre-packaged grab-and-go meal that some colleges are adopting is the home replacement meal trend or meal kits that we've grown accustomed to seeing advertised. The goal of meal kits is to provide fresh, chef-quality meals with an emphasis on the convenience of ordering and pickup.

Prior to COVID-19, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst is one college that has taken the home chef kit model and made it their own. UMass Fresh “provides ready-to-cook dinner kits” that are cooked and chilled for transport right in the college kitchen, then packed up for takeout. With many students living off-campus, this offers them a practical meal plan solution as an alternative to off-campus takeout dining. The meals themselves are easy and quick to prepare, with multiple meal choices each day to choose from. Once a meal kit is prepped, it's packaged for takeout and ready to pick up at a designated location. Now fully entrenched in a pandemic, this style of meal delivery makes more sense than ever.

MEAL DELIVERY DURING COVID AND POST-COVID TIMES

Whether it's grab-and-go, meal kits, or takeout from mobile orders, college and university foodservice programs have found themselves adapting to this new environment. With easy-to-use, durable transport, meal delivery can get from the kitchen to the students in safe, convenient ways. The Curbside Pick Up Cart is the ideal solution to provide eye-catching, weatherproof transport options for your program's meals, giving students on-campus meals without the risks associated with COVID-19. Drive-through pick up is commonplace for restaurants all over the country during the pandemic, and now your dining program can offer that same convenience.

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The State of Our Food Supply

The State of Our Food Supply

From dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks to pursuing solutions that allow foodservice operations to stay operational, things have been increasingly challenging in the last year. At the very beginning of the pandemic, there were concerns about food shortages as it relates to processing and distributing our food supply, and those challenges continue in varying forms today.

Let's start back at the beginning when the national food supply was in possible jeopardy and was an unknown factor. Many people rushed to grocery stores to stock up for weeks and even months on canned and frozen goods. This left grocery shelves bare and consumers terrified for what was to come.

The industry that struggled the most during this period was the meat processing business.  With heavy staffing working in proximity, many processing staff members fell ill with the coronavirus causing many plants to close. Companies responded, though, and measures were put in place such as temperature scanning, social distancing, and increased sanitation. By June, meatpacking was back to operating at roughly 97%, as reported by WebMD.

While the initial scare put us in a world of uncertainty, we slowly began to find a balance. More resources were available, and shelves were less bare. What we learned was the importance of keeping staff healthy across the entire foodservice spectrum, from grocery stores to restaurants to delivery drivers to meat processing plants.

As the virus continues to sweep across the United States, many are now worried that the industry won't suffer from a supply shortage but rather a staffing shortage. Even with new regulations and rules set in place, extra cleaning, and additional precautions, people are still testing positive for COVID-19. 

Critical labor is being put at risk in order to keep our food supply functioning, leaving many questioning if their jobs are worth that risk. On the other end of the spectrum, many are still seeking jobs and a surplus of people are working from home, keeping grocery stores flooded with business. 

New solutions are popping up daily to help prevent the spread of the virus as well as assist in keeping operations functioning, and even in the initial scare, most weren't going hungry due to a lack of food supply. Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics reported the biggest vulnerability for food insecurity was due to the loss of jobs from lost income with collapsing prices and lowered market demand. 

While there's still concern over the potential changes in the industry as we continue to deal with the pandemic, for the foreseeable future food supply looks promising and reliable. 

For a full list of all available COVID-19 product solutions from Lakeside, we encourage you to visit our main COVID-19 Resources page.