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The Hidden Benefit of Self-Serve Hydration and Nutrition Carts

In hospitals, senior care communities, and other types of healthcare facilities, the goal is always to ensure better health. Whether that’s helping a patient recover and improve or maintain a healthy lifestyle that already exists, food and beverage go a long way toward ensuring wellness.

As we’ve discussed in the past, one way to help patients and residents stay hydrated and nourished is to strategically place foods and beverages across a property, on a particular floor, or within a certain space that may otherwise go as unused. This helps encourage impulse food and beverage consumption that can contribute to good health practices, and while this is particularly important and is seen as the primary benefit of establishing hydration and nutrition carts, it certainly isn’t the only one.

The Hidden Benefit Is Choice

When it comes to recipients of foodservice in healthcare settings, those diners are often the ones who have health challenges. With health challenges often comes the lack of choice as it relates to food and beverage. And with a lack of choice can come the deterioration of mental health.

We’re not saying that setting up a water hydration station on a hospital floor will lead a patient to achieve optimal mental health, but what we are saying is there’s a correlation between recovery and wellness and providing choices to patients and residents. Even if it’s just one small moment in the day, having the ability to choose what to eat or drink, to decide whether or not to pour a refill, can be liberating for patients and residents in healthcare settings.

There Are Benefits for Operators, Too

Aside from promoting wellness, which is clearly the top goal of healthcare foodservice, there are other benefits for operators, as well. First is the elimination of food waste. Rather than bringing a tray with items into a patient’s room only to have them go uneaten, unconsumed, and discarded, operators that provide hydration and nutrition carts allow patients to only take what they want to eat or drink.

Setting up self-service stations can also contribute to higher reviews and ratings, which can go a long way toward securing higher reimbursement rates. And in today’s labor-starved workplaces, self-service stations are a great way to make the best use of the people on staff, providing a wider range of service with fewer resources.

Solutions from Lakeside That Deliver

Self-serve beverage service carts from Lakeside can help deliver patient and resident choice in healthcare and senior care environments. This often overlooked aspect of self-service can only be achieved with the proper equipment, and Lakeside's units are designed with both convenient storage and serving areas within the cart. Learn more about how self-serve hydration and nutrition carts can benefit your healthcare foodservice operation today.

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How to Choose Self- or Full-Service Beverage Carts in Healthcare

As we’ve highlighted recently, it’s important to provide hydration for patients and residents in healthcare facilities and senior care communities. Water and important nourishment from healthy foods are a great way to promote good health and recovery, but what are the best ways to achieve this?

Essentially, there are two ways to get foods and beverages to patients and residents. First, diners can come to the source of the food and water and serve themselves. The other way is to bring foods and drinks to them as part of a full-service operation. The next question, then, is how do you choose between the two? And the answer is one that has generally been skewed over the last few years as we’ve traversed the Covid pandemic.


Self-service is generally designed for patients and guests that have greater mobility and can move around within a particular property with relative ease. Adding self-serve hydration and nutrition carts are a great way to help make the most out of underused locations while also encouraging impulse food and beverage consumption that promotes wellness. They can be easily loaded in a kitchen for transport to a serving area, and they also eliminate the need for serving tables and linens that can eat resources. With self-serve carts, the impacts on staffing are minimal.


Full-service carts are designed to either bring foods and beverages directly to patients and residents, or they can be used to create patient/staff interactions in underused locations of a hospital or senior care community. Like self-serve carts, they also create opportunities for impulse fluid and food consumption in communal areas, as well as being ideal for room service and in-room meal deliveries. Though full-service carts are designed to be operated by a staff member, they can still reduce the burdens on staff by eliminating repeated trips to storage areas.

Hydration and Nutrition Carts from Lakeside

Based on the above criteria, it’s possible to narrow in on a selection for which type of serving station would work best for a particular type of healthcare facility or foodservice goal. Self-serve beverage service carts from Lakeside are designed with convenient storage underneath and ample serving space on top of the cart. This makes it easy to display an array of items while hiding backstock. Full-service hydration carts from Lakeside are great for mobile hydration and nutrition. Designed with features for dispensing and convenient drawers for operation, these units are great for providing vital hydration and nutrition to patients and residents in an efficient manner, while also delivering much-needed points of interaction.

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How to Encourage Hydration in Your Healthcare Foodservice Program

The benefits of drinking water are well-documented and well-understood, though you could make the argument they’re not always considered and followed. Before we delve into drinking water in a healthcare setting, let’s take a step back and review what we all like know about water:

  • Water helps to carry food and oxygen to our organs and cells.
  • Water helps our bodies get rid of unwanted bacteria
  • Water helps with digestion and waste removal.
  • Water stabilizes our blood pressure
  • It regulates our body temperatures
  • It cushions our joints.
  • And on
  • And on
  • And on

Now, if we can all recognize how important the consumption of water can be for normal, healthy humans, what about its importance in a hospital or clinic, or senior care center where patients or residents are in even greater need. Water is an absolutely critical component of recovery and wellness.

The next question becomes, how much water should one drink in a day? According to the study from Harvard University linked in the top paragraph of this article, the daily rule is four to six cups of water per day. That translates to between 32 and 48 fluid ounces each and every day. Keep in mind, though, that daily water consumption rates vary from person to person, and it’s always wise to consult a doctor to determine the right number.

Getting Water to Patients and Residents Quickly and Efficiently

There are two ways to get water to patients and residents. They can come to the water source, or healthcare foodservice operators can bring the water to them. Hydration carts and beverage service carts from Lakeside are an ideal way to help ensure hydration within the facility or community.

Hydration carts provide operators with the ability to bring hydrating beverages directly to patients or even to a particular part of a facility where water might be strategically placed. This is a great advantage that comes with mobile service that is durable and capable of covering a wide range of surfaces. In addition, hydration carts from Lakeside are also equipped with the ability to serve healthy snacks, making it even more useful

Beverage service carts provide similar capabilities as hydration carts. They’re created with stainless steel and laminate, and they allow operators to transport and serve both foods and beverages for a visually-appealing unit that can be loaded in the back-of-the-house for transport to patient rooms or other areas of a facility.

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How to Improve Your Meal Delivery Efficiency

There are many keys to successful meal delivery. One of them is to ensure that meals delivered are fresh and of high quality. Another key is to deliver meals quickly and efficiently. Consequently, these goals often go hand-in-hand, and there are several ways for operators to help achieve them.

Here are three ideas for operators to consider when looking to improve meal delivery efficiency, while also preserving quality.

Transport More Meals At The Same Time.

It might seem obvious, but transporting more meals at once can make meal delivery more efficient. Delivering fewer meals at the same time means that the entire process is less efficient, and less efficiency can reduce profitability because, yes, time is essentially money. Breaking up these meals into separate deliveries increases the transportation costs.

For this reason, it makes more sense to transport a greater number of meals at the same time. this can also help improve meal quality as prepared foods won't need to wait as long in the kitchen for the next wave of delivery.

Make Sure To Deliver Meals Securely and Safely.

Another method one can use to improve meal delivery efficiency is to ensure that all meals are delivered securely and safely. There are a number of things one can do to make sure this is the case. From ensuring that packaged items arrive intact to keeping food at proper serving temperatures from the kitchen to the fork, food safety is ultimately the most important aspect of any operation, from senior care communities to schools and corporate cafeterias.

Again preserving quality is a byproduct of safety. When items are kept and served at proper temperatures, not only do they remain safe for service, but they also retain the desired qualities that make food appetizing.

Utilize High-Quality Meal Transport Carts.

One more way to make meal delivery efficient is to use high-quality meal transport carts. Ideally, one would use delivery carts that can be easily moved, are durable, and can be moved outside across a variety of surfaces. Consider the types of surfaces over which they will move. Sometimes bumpy tiles and even elevator thresholds can be obstacles to food delivery, and Lakeside's team of experts can help.

The Lunch-Time Meal Transport Kiosk is suitable for this delivery. It is made from stainless steel for easy cleaning and sanitation. This kiosk is also made to accommodate a combination of coolers or thermal bags to handle various changing menus.

Curbside foodservice carts are another good option. The Curbside Pick-Up Cart is one such cart and it includes a durable stainless steel construction. It also has an all-weather cover, so one can use it in a variety of weather conditions. The Curbside Pick-Up Cart comes with all-swivel casters so it can move easily. All this, combined with its convenient push handle, makes it one of the top-notch curbside foodservice carts available today.

Meal delivery solutions are key to effective meal delivery. One can choose from a variety of different curbside and pick-up carts in addition to other products like drying racks. Steam tables are one more example of the meal delivery solutions that are available. All of these solutions can make it easy for one to deliver meals effectively.

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Be the Strongest Advocate in Senior Care Dining Rooms

At the end of the day, foodservice in senior care communities is just a form of hospitality. Rather than guests going home after a weeklong stay, though, residents are there for much longer periods of time, often for the rest of their lives. This makes it even more important for foodservice to have a strong advocate in senior care dining rooms.

But why?

Mealtimes are often some of the most important moments of the day, not just because they provide important nourishment for senior care populations, but also because they create space for socialization. With socialization comes the all-important mental health benefits. It’s important for senior care foodservice directors to understand the impacts their service can have, and the best way to realize this is to be in the dining room with guests and residents.

Simply put, registered dieticians and senior care foodservice directors don’t get into the dining rooms enough because they are drowning in paperwork, charting, ordering, staffing, regulations, scheduling, and so much more. Maybe it’s simply a matter of being too busy. Maybe it’s because you can’t measure the impact of being face-to-face with residents. Maybe it’s because walking the floor doesn’t fit on a spreadsheet. Either way, it doesn’t diminish the impact a director can have in the dining room, observing what is actually going on, speaking to residents about their preferences, and creating positive change. You can’t overestimate the impact of an end-product meal, but you have to be present in order to observe it.

So how can directors stay in front of residents at mealtime?

Service is something done to you. Hospitality is the way you make someone feel. When foodservice directors in senior care communities take a hospitality-driven approach, it means they’re committed to seeing the impacts of their service. Getting into the dining room is important, but it isn’t always easy.

The SuzyQ meal delivery system by Lakeside is a unique solution that allows operators to serve meals tableside or in the comfort of a resident’s room. Carts are heated for preserving food quality, but even more important, this type of function allows residents to self-choose their own meals. Not only does the element of choice provide much-needed control for residents, but it also reduces the amount of food waste by up to 50 percent.

For operators and foodservice directors, this is the perfect opportunity to get in front of residents by being the one to literally serve their meals tableside. If a personal connection is the goal, it doesn’t get any easier than with a SuzyQ meal delivery system.

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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 Close Look at the Compact Mart Cart

In so many settings, it's not practical or profitable to only sell food and beverages in one stationary spot. With a bit of creativity and the right tools in place, there's no need to limit service to one particular area, though. This blog will focus on one of those tools, the Lakeside Mart Cart, and we'll introduce you to the power of the Mart Cart, whether you're setting up a profitable breakfast cart or taking advantage of outdoor dining trends.

The Benefits of the Lakeside Mart Cart

It comes in two convenient sizes. 

The smaller mart cart size, which is a breeze to zip around, is the Lakeside 660 Compact Mart Cart for Mobile Food Operations. It measures just 28 1/4 x 49 x 72 1/4 inches. For even more bells and whistles, the Lakeside 68040 Compact Mart Cart with Full-Length Stainless Overshelf provides plenty of space at 27 1/2 x 60 x 70 inches. Either way, both compact carts provide plenty of space for food and beverages while efficiently and conveniently using space. The large stainless steel countertop work surface offers plenty of space for completing tasks.

They're designed to maximize portability.

Both sizes of compact mart carts provide next-level portability and are easy to maneuver into and out of spaces large and small including elevators, rooms, hallways, and kitchen areas. Features include easy-to-grab, ergonomic, vertical or horizontal handles on the side. There are also heavy-duty 5″ swivel casters to quickly move the cart from place to place. Better yet, both carts are lightweight yet sturdy. No need to be a racecar driver while steering and guiding either cart. Just move your point-of-sale and enjoy the profitability.

Speaking of profitability, stock the things that sell.

The sky is the limit when it comes to food and beverages that can find their way onto a Lakeside Mart Cart. It makes for an ideal breakfast on-the-go serving station, a snack bar, or beverage cart. Above the upper countertop is a storage area with multiple compartments that can hold a variety of items such as utensils, napkins, food packets, yogurt cups, tea bags, condiments, and more.

Create and customize Compact Mart Carts.

The adjustable height and slide-out stainless steel shelves allow the cart to customize its functionality for all sorts of easy configurations. It's even possible to remove shelves and replace them with optional insulated containers for holding hot and cold items. Soup, hot cocoa, lemonade, and fresh fruit salad have never tasted better or been easier to serve. The optional personalized merchandising front is an incredible way to add a logo, phrase, or design element. There is also plenty of space for accessories like utensils, napkins, plates, cups, ice, food containers, and a cash register.

Clean-up and maintenance are a snap.

Not just practical, both carts are also attractive and durable with a standard laminate exterior finish. For added design interest, custom laminate finishes are available. Both sizes of the Lakeside Mart Cart have a stainless steel interior that is easy to clean and sanitize. An excellent way to attract customers to any location is by offering a variety of food and beverages in an attractive, functional compact mart cart.

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The Power of Language in Long Term Healthcare

Everyone has a style of speaking, and it is easy to overlook the importance of language when communicating with other people. The reality is that words matter. There is a lot of jargon that people pick up no matter what industry they are in, and this is just as true in healthcare as it is in any other field. In particular, there are many people who use terms in long-term healthcare that can have a negative impact on residents, patients, and their families.

During the past few years, there has been an increased focus on how word choice impacts the work environment and the behavior of those around us. For example, many people now call prisons corrections centers, and janitors are now called environmental service professionals. There has also been a shift in how long-term care facilities, or nursing homes, are addressed. It is critical to make these environments feel more like homes instead of care centers, and language is a part of this.

How to Remind Team Members of the Language Shift

So, what can be done to help team members remember that there is a shift in how they are supposed to refer to long-term healthcare facilities? A few key tips to keep in mind include:

  • Do not call these residential communities facilities. Instead, call them homes or communities.
  • It is important to refer to people by name. Do not refer to residents by their diagnosis, and do not refer to employees by their job titles.
  • Do everything possible to avoid using medical terminology when communicating with residents.
  • Do not bark out orders to people. Instead, explain why they are important.

Furthermore, it is critical to use people-first language. This means that people need to be addressed as people before diving into the details. Instead of saying “handicapped person,” say “person who uses a wheelchair,” or whatever the disability might be.

Examples of Terms That Need to Be Changed

It is also helpful to take a look at a few examples of terms that need to be changed. They include:

  • Instead of calling someone a complainer, refer to that individual as a person with concerns.
  • Instead of talking about open beds, talk about the people who live there.
  • Instead of referring to someone as a new admission, refer to this as the move-in process.
  • Instead of allowing someone to do something, encourage them to do something.
  • Instead of saying someone has expired, say that someone passed away.

Even though these might seem like small changes, they can make a significant difference to people who live in these homes and the people who work there. The goal is to make the environment feel more like home instead of a medical facility. Making changes in how people talk in these locations can do exactly that.

Use the SuzyQ Food Serving Cart to De-Institutionalize Senior Care Foodservice

One of the best ways to further encourage people to make changes in how they interact with others in senior living communities is to change the way food is served. The SuzyQ Food Serving Cart can do exactly that. Unfortunately, there are a lot of senior living centers that continue to serve food from a cart that looks like it belongs in the hospital. That is not the best way to make people feel like they are living in a new home. Instead, it is important to use a cart that looks more like what people might find in their own homes. Using a cart such as the SuzyQ Cart can de-institutionalize long-term care foodservice.

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Options for the SuzyQ Meal Delivery Cart

Every senior living home is different. Every home has a slightly different number of residents, each of whom has slightly different needs. Some residents live very independent lives, while others might be partially or fully dependent on someone else for their daily care. Regardless, everyone needs to eat, and this includes those who live in senior living communities. That is exactly where the SuzyQ Foodservice Cart can be helpful. This is a cart that comes with a wide variety of options that can be customized to meet the needs of the residents and the person serving the food. There are several customizable options that everyone should know.

The SuzyQ Cart Serves Hot and Cold Meals

One of the first benefits of the SuzyQ cart is that it can serve hot and cold meals. The wells can be customized to meet the needs of the food, and this creates a lot of options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For example, it is possible for someone to serve both hot eggs and cold yogurt or fruit during breakfast. The same can be said of lunch and dinner.

The Cart Comes With Multiple Options for Well Depth

The pans can be customized in-depth to meet the needs of the meal as well. One of the most popular options, the 4-inch pans, hold a lot of food, and the food will not turn crusty or stale during the serving process.

On the other hand, 6- or 8-inch pans might be a bit too deep, because the food can turn crusty and get stuck to the bottom, which is not the most appetizing choice. There might even be situations in which a 2-inch pan might be better because the food is even less likely to get stuck or turn crusty.

The only time a deeper pan might be better is if there is a soup or sauce. If it is the middle of winter and a lot of soup is being served, then a deeper pan might be an option. The soup will be moving around in the pan, and it will stay fresh.

There is also the option to use ninth pans, which are smaller, deeper pans. These are better for modified diets and purées. If there is something that needs to be in the pan for only a few servings, a ninth might be a good option.

It is also possible to use a long, thin hotel pan with the SuzyQ Foodservice Delivery Cart. This is great when senior homes want to show off something delicious on the cart. The tray runs the length of the delivery cart, and it looks very pretty. The ability to customize the pans in the SuzyQ Meal Delivery Cart makes it easier for senior living communities to customize the cart to meet their needs.

The Benefits of the SuzyQ Cart

There are a number of significant benefits that come from using this cart. They include:

  • Using them allows senior living communities to reduce food waste because residents have control over what they want to eat.
  • These carts make it easier for staff members to interact with residents, creating a more engaged labor force.
  • The cart has been specifically designed to reduce back-and-forth trips to save time while serving food.
  • Ultimately, the food tastes better, and residents are happier. This leads to increased satisfaction all around, creating a powerful marketing tool.

These are just a few of the many benefits that come from using the SuzyQ Cart. Every senior living community is different, and it is possible to customize this cart to meet the needs of the senior care foodservice community.

How does your senior care measure up in healthcare dining? Take this quiz here to find out!

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The Story of the SuzyQ Food Delivery Cart

Everyone loves a good story, and pretty much every successful business solution is rooted in one. For the SuzyQ food delivery cart, that is certainly true, as well.

What is the SuzyQ?

To quickly recap, the SuzyQ food delivery cart is a solution designed around the notion of self-determined foodservice in senior care communities. When you provide the option for residents to choose rather than having pre-plated servings placed before them, there is a wide range of benefits both for diners and for operators.

First, senior care residents get to choose, and for this demographic, choice is something that is often taken away. Giving choice at mealtimes is a great way to help maintain the all-important element of control.

Second, allowing residents to choose reduces food waste, as they only select the menu options they really desire. This helps the overall bottom line because food is not wasted, and therefore, money is not wasted.

Finally, with self-determined meal service in a SuzyQ, the food delivery cart is actually wheeled through the dining room creating points of interaction between residents and foodservice staff. These relationships are important because they make for happier seniors and more fulfilled staff.

In reality, there are many more benefits to using a SuzyQ food delivery cart, but this article isn’t about why senior care community foodservice operators should consider using one. It’s about why it was created in the first place. So, let us introduce you to Suzanne Quiring.

The SuzyQ was invented by Suzanne Quiring, a dietician and foodservice manager who worked in residential care. She saw the drawbacks of traditional service where staff cooked meals and had service staff run plated food back and forth from a pick-up window to the residents’ tables. She also knew there was a better way than serving cold food and dealing with food preference lists.

Quiring went on a journey to create a new solution, and the result is the SuzyQ. Based on the idea of a rolling service cart on an airplane where flight attendants ask what beverage you’d like, Quiring asked the question, “Why can’t we do that in the dining room?” Rooted in years of service that resulted in unhappy residents and wasted food, the SuzyQ food delivery cart rolled onto the scene and created a new way of foodservice delivery – the self-determined meal.

The SuzyQ actually began with beverages. Rather than pre-pouring drinks before guests arrive resulting in warm milk, she decided to roll a beverage cart through the dining room offering on-demand beverages. The residents loved it, and a dessert cart was included next. Finally, the idea shifted to full meal delivery, and the SuzyQ was invented, finally allowing senior care residents to hand-select the foods they want, served warm and at ideal serving conditions.