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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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Hot Debate: Which is Better, Heated or Non Heated Plate Dispensers?

Hot Debate: Which is Better, Heated or Non-Heated Plate Dispensers?

To heat or not to heat. That's often the question foodservice operators face when they're looking to build out banquet serving lines, upgrade corporate cafeterias, or even enhance school foodservice capabilities in K-12 settings or on college campuses. And the debate is whether to offer plates that are heated or dispense them from a non-heated plate dispenser at ambient temperatures.

So, when should you use a heated plate dispenser? There are a handful of reasons that make the most sense as it relates to using a heated plate dispenser versus a non-heated option, and we'll walk through those one-by-one now.

Are you serving hot food?

Think about your own, personal dining experiences when plate dispensing was involved. Unless you're going to the salad bar, grabbing a cold plate and filling it with hot meats and vegetables can decrease the perception of the service. Research shows that using a heated plate dispenser can help elevate that perception, while at the same time keeping warm foods at temperatures that are more desirable for diners. Simply put, if you're serving hot foods, you probably don't want to serve them on ice-cold plates.

Are you serving food in a cold environment? 

Sometimes the ambient room temperatures might be cold or potentially unstable, which can then impact the temperatures of food being served. Serving lines might also exist in outside areas or spaces exposed to the elements. By using a heated plate dispenser, the potential for external temperatures to impact the temperature of foodservice is diminished.

Are you looking to save costs?

As you might expect, heated plate dispensers costs more than those without heating elements and the ability to warm china. That being said, saving on plate dispensers could actually wind up costing more if food quality or safety leads to food waste. If there's any potential for serving warm foods or serving foods when external temperatures could impact service, it's almost always advisable to choose a plate dispenser with heating elements. If plates will be used only for cold food service such as salad bars, an operation could probably get away with using a non-heated plate dispenser.

Plate Dispensers: Other Considerations

Plate dispenser options can also include mobile or countertop units. Moveable food dispensers are more ideal for buffets because they can be transferred quickly to any space. Countertop dispensers are more ideal for cafeterias and restaurants as they tend to be more stationary.

Adjust-A-Fit dispensers allow for multiple plate sizes to be dispensed from the unit. Need one side for salad plates and one side for hot food dishes? No problem! Adjust-A-Fit heated double-wall cabinets allow you to adjust the height and the temperature for both dispenser tubes individually. The easy, non-stick glide design ensures smooth dispensing of your bowl or plate of choice.

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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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3 Phrases to Remember in Senior Care Dining

3 Phrases to Remember in Senior Care Dining

Foodservice in a senior care community or nursing home can be a tricky balance. On one hand, you have to make sure meals are safe and nutritious for residents. On the other hand, you have to empower residents to make decisions on their own. In reality, these two things don't have to be in opposition to one another.

According to the Pioneer Network's New Dining Practice Standards, food and dining requirements are core components of quality of life and care in senior care communities. Let's go through three important phrases from their findings and see why.

STATEMENT 1: Choice of food has a tremendous impact on quality of life.

In fact, some say it actually defines it. Food can provide many amazing benefits, and those positive attributes begin with choices. Ask a few simple questions. What does the resident want? For example, how did they do things before moving in, and how can those things be replicated within the community's foodservice program? What to eat, when to eat, where to eat, and with whom are all important things to determine. Provide real choice, not token choices like the difference between hot and cold cereal.

STATEMENT 2: We do not assume that just because residents may not be able to make a choice in some parts of their lives, they cannot make choices related to dining.

When both residents and staff are well-educated on matters of choice, when staff are trained to look for the right things, and when residents have consistent relationships with staff members who can advocate for them, even residents with impaired decision-making capabilities, can experience choice as it relates to dining. Studies show that cognitive impairment does not impact choice-making, and people with mild to moderate cognitive impairment can still provide input on food choice and successfully and make many of those decisions.

STATEMENT 3: Mealtime dining studies provide evidence that enabling residents to choose what they want to eat at mealtime does not result in negative nutritional outcomes.

In fact, it's quite the opposite. When residents have choice at mealtimes, it actually enhances the nutritional impact of meals. Even more important, it increases not just resident satisfaction, but also the satisfaction of staff, caregivers, and family members.

 

Lakeside is here to help improve your Senior Care Dining operations with various product solutions! The Suzy Q cart is the ideal solution for providing a person-centered dining environment for senior care communities!

SuzyQ: Key Choice Concepts with Suzanne

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Challenges and Solutions for Senior Care Dining

Challenges and Solutions for Senior Care Dining

There are several key challenges senior care foodservice directors face. Some of these challenges are day-to-day in their nature, while others are more macro, focusing on the bigger picture. Let's run through a few of these challenges and solutions.

BUDGETS

Tight budgets are common. In fact, directors tend to have about 10 dollars to feed a resident three meals and two snacks per day. If you're in senior care or nursing home foodservice, you know it's important to master the skill of doing a lot with a little.

COLD FOOD

Whether you're transporting food from the kitchen to the dining room or even directly to a resident's bedside, maintaining proper food temperature is always a struggle in senior care foodservice.

HIGH FOOD WASTE

We waste a lot of food. In fact, studies show as much as 50 percent of the world's food supply is wasted. In senior care foodservice, this is also an issue. From residents who throw away food they were served but didn't want to discarding the cold dishes mentioned above, food waste is the same as wasting money.

POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE

Meal times are some of the most enjoyable for senior care community residents. Staff should recognize this, and provide the type of service that makes residents happy.

LACK OF TEAMWORK

When staff communicate with one another, it's easier to pinpoint potential issues in foodservice. Setting up a culture of sharing is a great way to combat this.

HIGH STAFF TURNOVER

These last three are all related. A disjointed team that provides poor service will most often be a staff that sees high turnover. Likewise, high turnover can lead to a lack of teamwork and poor service. Everything staffing-related is interconnected.

Meal delivery can make all the difference.

There are essentially two common ways to provide meal service. The first is with trays. Trays are very institutionalized. We don't eat on a tray in our own homes, so using them in a senior care community seems a bit out-of-touch. Senior care residences are not intended for acute care, where trays are acceptable. Senior care residences are homes where people live.

The second mode is pre-plating. Similar to a restaurant, the plating is completed in the back-of-the-house with lists and tickets. Staff run plates back and forth from the kitchen and the dining room, making this what we call the "throw and go" method

The best way to deliver food is with mobile meal service.

Mobile meal delivery carts allow operators to bring fresh options and meal choice directly to the table or to a resident's room. This way is the future of senior care dining as more and more directors realize the benefits.

Mobile meal delivery can eliminate cold food and food waste by allowing residents to hand-select what they want for dinner. It promotes interaction with staff and builds a sense of connection and teamwork. And, they're certainly great for an operation's bottom line.

 

Lakeside is here to help you improve your senior care dining experience. The Suzy Q cart is the ideal solution for providing a person-centered dining environment for senior care communities!

SuzyQ: Senior Care Dining Challenges and Methods with Suzanne

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Six Essential Senior Care Mealtime Elements

Six Essential Senior Care Mealtime Elements

No matter who we are or where we live, mealtimes are often some of the most enjoyable moments of the day. We get to spend time with friends and family. We can order or decide to cook things that will meet our cravings. And we can take a few moments to slow down and relax. For residents of senior or long-term care communities, meals can provide the exact same benefits.

“Mealtimes are a mainstay of life through which residents’ experiences are characterized, exemplified, and magnified,” one study found. To understand just how important meals can be, consider this. They play an integral role in the emotional and psychological connections residents feel with other residents. Meals can help residents manage competing interests with limited resources, and they can provide an element of familiarity and routine that is so important.

On an even more granular level, food and mealtimes can provide three critical components. First, they bring people together. Through what are traditionally communal dining spaces (an area that has been challenging during the Covid pandemic), opportunities are created for socialization that are critical to a person’s mental health.

Second, food provides a sense of control. In a senior care community, this can mean selecting a certain entrée off a menu or even choosing to double up on a helping of green beans instead of receiving a plate of mashed potatoes a particular diner might not even like. With a demographic that tends to lose control of many health-related issues, having control at the dinner table can enhance the importance of mealtime.

Finally, meals provide structure and routine. These points of the day can provide much-needed stabilization and familiarity. In some situations, due to deteriorating mental capacities, the structure meals provide can be critical to a resident’s well-being.

The 3 Principles for Successful Senior Care Dining

Now that we understand the importance of senior care foodservice, what does a successful operation look like? This is an important question, and no matter where you end up in the ensuing discussion, that conversation must always begin with the safety of the residents. First and foremost, successful senior care foodservice should be safe and nourishing, promoting the overall good health of those who eat the food.

According to the Pioneer Network, food and dining are the core components of quality of life in long-term care communities, and they can be defined in three important ways.

STATEMENT 1: Choice of food has a tremendous impact on quality of life.

In fact, some say it actually defines it. Food can provide many amazing benefits, and those positive attributes begin with choices. Ask a few simple questions. What does the resident want? For example, how did he or she do things before moving in, and how can those things be replicated within the community's foodservice program? What to eat, when to eat, where to eat, and with whom are all important things to determine.

STATEMENT 2: We do not assume that just because residents may not be able to make a choice in some parts of their lives, they cannot make choices related to dining.

When both residents and staff are well-educated on matters of choice, when staff is trained to look for the right things, and when residents have consistent relationships with staff members who can advocate for them, even residents with impaired decision-making capabilities can experience choice as it relates to dining. Studies show that cognitive impairment does not impact choice-making, and people with mild to moderate cognitive impairment can still provide input on food choices and successfully make many of those decisions. Let’s honor this.

STATEMENT 3: Mealtime dining studies provide evidence that enabling residents to choose what they want to eat at mealtime does not result in negative nutritional outcomes.

In fact, it's quite the opposite. When residents have a choice at mealtimes, it actually enhances the nutritional impact of meals. Even more important, it increases not just resident satisfaction, but also the satisfaction of staff, caregivers, and family members.

Partners in success: Lakeside can help promote the positive benefits of foodservice in senior care communities.

Lakeside foodservice believes in honoring residents' fundamental right to self-determination at mealtime. Bringing hot, safe, flexible meal choices to residents is our goal and we are here to help your community accomplish this with SuzyQ carts, hydration carts, action stations, and more.

SuzyQ: Key Choice Concepts with Suzanne

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How Digital Tools are Transforming Foodservice

Are you interested in improving efficiency, increasing output, and reducing food waste in your restaurant or other foodservice business? If you are, it may be time to get technical. That's right, technology is playing an increasingly important role in the foodservice industry.

According to an article in Forbes magazine, we owe many of the improvements in the production, packaging, shelf life, and safety of food to improved technology in the food industry. From drone farmworkers to robotic butchers, technology is impacting all areas of food production and distribution. For example, satellite imagery helps monitor weather patterns that can affect the timing of planting and harvesting. Farm drones pinpoint diseased crops so that pesticides can be applied precisely where they're needed instead of blanket bombing entire fields. Advanced packaging can improve food safety, increase shelf life, and help eliminate waste.

Going Green

Technology can even help your business go green. An app such as Copia can keep track of your food inventory to help you make more informed purchasing decisions. It will also help you reduce food waste by connecting you with local non-profits who can make good use of your surplus food.

After-school programs, shelters, and other programs will benefit from that surplus while you reap the tax benefits of your donations. Not only that, but you'll no longer be contributing to the 40% of American food that gets wasted each year. That's an important point for many customers, especially millennials and generation Z.

Sustainability is a major concern for many of these younger customers. They may even choose a place to eat based on it. Reducing water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions go hand in hand with reducing food waste. So too does sourcing food locally, since it reduces the fuel and emissions associated with long-distance shipping. Not only is improved sustainability beneficial to the planet, but it also benefits your bottom line through lower food costs and an increased customer base.

Managing Inventory and Production Schedules

Use technology to help you with more accurate inventory management so that you always know what to order and when. You can also use it to manage your production schedule in order to improve efficiency and reduce wasteful overproduction. According to the non-profit ReFED organization, you can save thousands of dollars annually just by using technology to track and reduce waste.

Digital tools transforming foodservice is just one trend to look for in 2021. Learn more about the top food and beverage trends of the new year in our recorded webinar, “Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021”.

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Food As Medicine – An Intro Guide

If there's one thing we learned in the past year, it's that our health is the most important thing we have. And as we know, one of the most important aspects to staying healthy is eating a healthy diet. Yes, food is important because it helps us stay healthy.

Eating a healthy well-balanced diet year-round is key in keeping your immune system healthy. Fresh fruits and vegetables give us many of the vitamins and minerals our body craves and prevents infections. While supplements can be useful, it's better to get what you need from fresh or frozen foods and not a capsule. Hospitals and senior care communities across the country know this, and that's why food is often viewed as medicine — food has the power to heal.

With cold and flu season in full swing, now is the time to do everything necessary to keep our bodies healthy and free from disease. Especially in the age of COVID-19, bodies need these six beneficial vitamins and ingredients:

Vitamin C

Your mother probably told you to drink your orange juice because it was packed with vitamin C, and you should always listen to mom. The simple reason it's so important is that it may increase white blood cell production, which helps to fight viruses, bacteria, and infections.

Foods packed with vitamin C include:

  • Grapefruit
  • Oranges
  • Tangerines
  • Red bell peppers
  • Broccoli

Not only do these foods help boost immunity, but they're also great for maintaining skin and eye health.

Vitamin E

Not always thought of as the most common vitamin when boosting immunity, but vitamin E is a powerhouse. Packed with antioxidants, which help protect cells against free radicals, vitamin E is important for eye, blood, and brain health.

Foods full of vitamin E include:

  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Seeds
  • Avocado
  • Spinach
  • Canola oil
  • Olive oil

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is super important in that it is anti-inflammatory and may help antibodies respond to toxins in the body. It's also fat-soluble, which means it's best to include healthy fats with it to aid in absorption.

Important for vision and cell division and reproduction, here are some common foods packed with vitamin A.

  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Butternut squash
  • Spinach
  • Dairy products
  • Cantaloupe
  • Dark leafy greens

Iron

Iron helps support immune health. It is a key nutrient in helping develop white blood cells and mobilizing their response. Iron is also crucial to blood health and reproductive health.

Need more iron in your diet? Try these foods.

  • Chicken
  • Red meat
  • Turkey
  • Oysters
  • Clams
  • Canned tuna

Zinc

In order to produce new immune system cells, zinc must be present. Unfortunately for us, zinc is a mineral our body doesn't produce, so we need to get it elsewhere. It's typically found in shellfish (oysters, crab, lobster), but eating yogurt or chickpeas will also do the trick.

The thing about zinc is that you need it for healthy immune function, but getting too much of it can have the opposite effect and impair immunity.

Garlic

Garlic isn't used to just season food or give you stinky breath, but it contains a myriad of compounds to support immune system health. It has been shown to reduce stress hormones and increase the production of T-cells. This superstar may also lower blood pressure and cholesterol according to recent clinical trials. Used throughout the ages to treat colds and infections, soldiers even used it in World War II to prevent gangrene.

The concept of "food as medicine" is just one trend to look for in 2021. Learn more about the top food and beverage trends of the new year in our recorded webinar, “Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021”.

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Webinar: Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021

Webinar: Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021

Your world has been dominated by shifts and progressions, forcing the evolution of your operations. So how can you keep up?

After months of surveys, conversations, trainings, and research, we’ve identified 10 foodservice trends to help you rise into the new year.

You’ll learn:

  • The top 10 foodservice trends in 2021
  • How other businesses and industries are adapting
  • How to implement these strategies for yourself

Recorded Webinar

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2020 Year in Review: Senior Care Foodservice

Here are the highlights of our senior care foodservice blogs from this year.

Senior care communities were put on high alert early on during the Coronavirus pandemic. With residents at a higher risk than most, it has been vital for senior care staff to continue to deliver necessary foodservice safely. Meal delivery during COVID-19 has never been as important, and with the right tools, it was being done in a safe, effective manner. The changes we saw over the course of 2020 will no doubt impact how senior care foodservice is handled as we embark on the new year.

Here are the biggest takeaways of the significant changes we witnessed in senior care foodservice in 2020.

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