Posted on

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.

From curbside to carry-out, Lakeside has the meal delivery solutions to help your college and university foodservice program adapt to these changing times. 

Posted on

The Ghost Kitchen Trend of 2021

Take Out Containers

Living in the digital age definitely comes with a lot of perks, especially when it comes to foodservice and what's known as the "ghost kitchen". In the last five years, apps like GrubHub, UberEats, and DoorDash have taken over the food industry. Offering convenience by taking away the long lines and busy hustle of sitting in a restaurant waiting to order, these apps have provided a simple way to grab breakfast, lunch, or dinner without having to leave the comfort of your office or home. What more could you want?

Well, from an industry perspective, staying on par with the latest trends without having to take a loss to be a part of it is the goal. As consumers further move towards online orders and delivery services, keeping up without going into debt can be difficult for start-ups and older businesses. Fortunately, the ghost kitchen is offering a perfectly balanced solution to help you keep up with consumer's technology-savvy desires.

WHAT IS THE GHOST KITCHEN PHENOMENON?

Simply put, a ghost kitchen is a facility set up for delivery-only meals. It provides space to prepare and produce these meals so that online orders are successful without any snags or troubles along the way. Through ghost kitchen services, foodservice operators are able to expand their areas of service, focus more on seamlessly contactless methods of serving, and cut back on the costs of real estate.

PERKS, CONS, AND MORE

Ghost kitchens are dominating the food industry by honing in on a specific style of food or a particular cuisine. This allows kitchens to focus on multiple brands of an item, making it easy to reach customers looking for a specific dish while also taking advantage of the real estate market. Perks you can be on the lookout for are:

  • Cross utilizing products between brands
  • Quick launch phase
  • Cheaper than opening a brand-new location for each brand
  • Less equipment needed
  • Expand customer reach by taking advantage of a broader delivery area away from your permanent location

With any new business model, there are disadvantages. As ghost kitchens grow and work out all their kinks, here are the cons you might experience:

  • High competition due to an increased virtual food court
  • No walk-in traffic
  • Limits on your delivery service based on where that kitchen is located

As trends change and services such as ghost kitchens continue to rise in popularity, staying on top of the foodservice industry will also change. Ghost kitchens' rise in success comes from their ability to expand business in small increments. They allow you to reach consumers you may not reach otherwise and help you break into the delivery service movement that's taking over.

Following the odd year we had in 2020, consumers will continue taking advantage of online ordering and curbside pick up or delivery services. In 2021, we can expect that the ghost kitchen trend will grow drastically. It only takes somebody 66 days, on average, to form a habit. If we look at that from a delivery perspective, then the habit of utilizing quick service apps is already habitual.

For more information on how you can implement the ghost kitchen into your foodservice operation, contact us at Lakeside today. Our experts focus on manufacturing top of the line foodservice equipment as well as continuously monitor the latest industry trends. We'll be following the ghost kitchen trend through 2021, and we look forward to helping you make the necessary changes to do the same and to further assist in increasing the success of your overall foodservice operation.

Keep up with even more trends by watching our recorded webinar "Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021".

Posted on

How Digital Tools are Transforming Foodservice

Chef Taking Food Inventory

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”.

Posted on

2021 Trends Foodservice Consultants Should Consider

Sustainable consumption and healthy eating, along with climate change, are significantly influencing consumer choices.

 More than ever before, people want to know the source of their food, how healthy are its contents, and whether it has been produced, processed, packaged and distributed in a sustainable fashion.

This article from Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI) quotes a report by the research firm Datassential indicating the climate crisis and a new generation of plant-based foods will impact our industry in 2020, and these are all trends that foodservice consultants should know.

Sustainable Food

The relevant questions for sustainable food are how much land is required, how much water are we using, and are we using too much energy in the production and processing of our food supplies?

Tastewise, a company that brings the power of AI to analyzing food trends, studied over two billion social interactions, more than three million online recipes, and the largest restaurant menu database available of 274,000 restaurants to conclude that, compared to a year ago, food sustainability is a high priority item for 23 percent more consumers. 

Customers are now placing greater emphasis on sustainable ingredients and resource-light production techniques like hydroponics, recyclable packaging, and the avoidance of plastic. Another notable fact is the emergence of vegetarianism and veganism as mainstream trends. 

Clara Ming Pi of FCSI says, "I am very pleased to say that, finally, the plant-based movement is here!" The adoption of plant-based foods has another motivation driving it: health consciousness.

Healthier Food Choices

It turns out that a meat-based diet is not only resource-intensive but also a contributing factor to health issues like cancer. 

"Our food supplies contribute to one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, and the foods that create the most greenhouse gases are the same foods that are contributing to many of our chronic diseases," Pi said. 

Thirty-nine percent of consumers' conversations about sustainable food also include references to the health benefits of various food choices. Another relevant statistic is that the sale of plant-based food in the U.S. has increased by 8.1 percent over the last year. 

"We see more healthy, sustainable and plant-based dining that tastes appetizing to a wider demographic than ever before," said Melanie Corey-Ferrini, CEO of 3.14DC Design and Consulting, an FCSI associate.

Technology and the Food Chain

The food industry needs to cope with shifts in consumers' preferences. Advances in technology enable production techniques like hydroponics. Technological advances also help the industry cope with the recent trend towards catering and takeout. Restaurant layout, kitchen design, and staff skills have to change to adapt to this emerging trend. 

"Think smart equipment, mobile technology like order/pay apps, and robots for foodservice tasks including delivery,” said Connie Dickson, a principal with FCSI associate member.

Taste Trends

FSCI reports the following shifts in U.S. consumers' taste preferences:

  • Trending regional flavors: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Latin American.
  • Foreign foods in demand: Mexican Puebla Hot Pot (a chicken dish), Greek Manouri (a goat cheese), Indian Millet (an ancient grain), Tanzanian Mishkaki (marinated meat skewers), and Chinese Jianbing (street-food breakfast crepe)
  • Growing restaurant concepts: Chef-driven fast-casual, Farm-to-table, and Family-friendly
  • Emerging restaurant concepts: Dog-friendly, Upcycling, and Hyper-local
Posted on

Webinar: Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021

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

Reserve your spot now!

Recorded Webinar

Posted on

Restaurant Trend Predictions for 2021

As we venture into the new decade, the market for food is making some pretty drastic changes.

Make sure your New Year's resolutions include more than expanding your menu. From new recipes to the biggest of trends, everyone is looking for ways to improve the customer experience, and here are a few of our predictions to look out for in the New Year.

1. Transparency

People want to know what's in their food, how it's made, and if it's good for them. Throughout 2021, consumers will want restaurants to expand on transparency when it comes to how guests are spending their money. This can mean build-your-own options, front-of-the-house theater kitchens, sourcing listed on menus, and much more. Either way, today’s consumers, especially those Millennials and Gen Zers, are looking for information about what they’re eating.

2. Home-Meal Kits

Those subscription meal kits that have been taking over in 2020 will continue to be all the craze as we embrace 2021. Their easily accessible content can make grocery shopping unnecessary, and they give you the chance to try new recipes without making too much to eat. Consumers love that each kit measures the needed ingredients and allows you to cut back on the preparation time it takes to make a delicious dish. Most of the subscriptions offer organic or meat-free choices, leaning into that healthier diet movement.

3. Green Growth

Healthy eating is the new trend, and it's taking over by storm. More people are growing cautious over the things they put in their bodies, requesting more plant-based meals and actually changing their diets. You can expect green vegetables to be the 2021 craze, as well as a continuation of plant-based meat options. Another perk is that focusing on greens is more eco-friendly and sustainable, which is another draw for younger demographics.

4. Take-Out and Delivery

As technology makes access to delivery easier, it's efficient in allowing consumers to continue their busy schedules without having to sit down in a restaurant to eat. More people are dropping by to pick up orders or simply requesting somebody to deliver them through various apps. Restaurants will be pushed to cater to those consumers more frequently in the upcoming year, and they will need to expand on their menu and carry-out options for those orders that leave their location. This will take thought, foresight, and the equipment and staff to deliver quality.

5. Fermented Drinks 

Kombucha has been flying off the shelves since it appeared on many people's radar due to a meme on social media. Upon discovering it, it's created and remained a trend due to the health benefits that come with drinking it, especially in communities that are more health-conscious to begin with. We anticipate this trend to continue growing, though, even into cities or certain parts of the country that have had limited exposure to soft drink alternatives like kombucha. Here’s to the ‘booch!

6. Strange and Out There

While trends are exciting, more operations are getting bold when it comes to growing their business and gaining attention. The 2021 year will bring more eye-catching menu items and ideas that are a little wild in comparison to the typical plain burger or salad. To make sure these items are crave-worthy, you'll notice they're only offered for a limited time. This is a great play on marketing and pushes hungry customers to want to try the newest item before it's gone forever. 

Posted on

The COVID Resource Roundup

If there was one word to describe 2020, “uncertainty” has to be at the top of the list.

The world has completely changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ability to adapt and adjust to this new world we live in, especially in foodservice, has never been more critical. Here at Lakeside, our first instinct is to help our customers, whether it’s through in-room meal solutions in healthcare, sanitization in restaurants, or meal delivery and accessibility in K-12 and colleges and universities.

Read More

Posted on

2 Drainage Options All Foodservice Consultants Should Know About

Made To Drain created two unique products designed to make drainage easy, effective, and convenient.

What sets Made To Drain (MTD) apart is the engineered floor troughs developed to assist and enhance the draining process. The Leak Eliminator and Clog-Free™ are two of MTD's products that are making a big difference in kitchens everywhere. Anyone who works in the foodservice industry will want to know about these amazing drain options.

Made To Drain's Leak Eliminator

Nobody wants to deal with having a leak no matter how big or small the damage is. The Leak Eliminator was designed by MTD is help avoid unnecessary leaks when it comes to floor trough installations. All of MTD's products are created with the intention of containing and redirecting excessive water and debris. The seepage flange mates support the flooring of the trough while also clenching down to create a "watertight seal". The weep holes placed on the flange permit any excess liquid to smoothly flow into the building drain line. Investing in the Leak Eliminator is a good way to be proactive and, hopefully, avoid leaks all together! The Leak Eliminator, and all of MTD's products, were carefully constructed to guarantee the highest levels of quality and safety for their consumers and customers. Buying the Leak Eliminator is not just an everyday purchase but an investment. Read more the specifics of the Leak Eliminator by visiting MTD's site.

Made To Drain's Clog-Free™

MTD's Clog-Free™ has given drainage a whole new image and reputation. Clogs are a problem of the past when consumers invest in Clog-Free™. With Clog-Free™ consumers are able to completely eliminate free-standing water. This particular product provides the ultimate protection for any tile and grout used to ground a floor trough by virtually cutting back on all clogs and leaks. As a result, another added benefit of Clog-Free™ is a noteworthy difference in minimizing the number of slips and falls taking place in the kitchen area. Clog-Free™ takes safety to a new level.

However, it is the high capacity strainer trays that make Clog-Free™ stand out. Watch this video to see how beautifully the tray works in action. Grease traps will indirectly greatly benefit from investing in Clog-Free™ by reducing the amount of sediment throughout the process. Not to mention, the additional perk of never having to make another maintenance-related phone call is enough to make anyone in the foodservice industry consider investing in Clog-Free™.

How to make the best drainage choice

Food consultants are one-way interested individuals are able to learn about drainage options when it comes to the foodservice industry. Made To Design's website provides potential customers with the essential information needed to make the best decision. For each product

Made To Design shares the spec sheet, Revit, and installation guide of each and every product. Navigating the architecture of MTD's products can seem overwhelming, but it is actually a very easy process. Made To Drain provides all of their contact information for any questions or concerns and is happy to help you with this process. Use this tool provided by Made To Drain to find a rep nearby to begin exploring all of the products and opportunities today.

In the past, drainage may have not been considered innovative or impressive, but Made To Drain has changed the drainage game. The foodservice industry is changing for the better with products like Leak Eliminator and  Clog-Free™. It can be overwhelming to begin thinking about these changes and purchases, but Made To Drain is here to help. Check out MTD's engineered floor troughs and remarkable draining options and it will be obvious why consumers will want to invest in these products.

Posted on

How Healthcare Foodservice Leaders Are Responding in 2020

Pressure was placed on healthcare foodservice leaders to develop an unexpected pandemic response plan.

Many have prepared for emergencies like fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, or mass shootings, but a pandemic was not on the list for the near future. Since being prepared is key to any good action plan, a lot of pressure was placed on healthcare foodservice leaders to develop an unexpected pandemic response plan. Nonetheless, they stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park with response plans created to anticipate the worst, respond immediately, and adapt to the inevitable changes to come. Circumstances differ from hospital to hospital due to location and outbreak, but food service leaders are working hard to keep providing food to patients and staff.

Read More

Posted on

The Celebrity Appeal Behind Food Waste Reduction

Food waste reduction is popular for a variety of reasons. It fights hunger. It's good for the environment. It's appealing to younger consumers. And it's profitable.

But there's another type of popularity to consider when it comes to food waste reduction, and it involves celebrities and household names.

James Beard is arguably the most recognized name we associate with restaurants. The James Beard Foundation Awards are essentially the "Oscars of Food," as every year, restaurants, chefs, journalists, writers, TV producers, bartenders, and sommeliers are given our country's top honors. Now, they're also educating us on how to make the most of our food.

With the release of Waste Not: How to Get the Most From Your Food, the James Beard Foundation provides some answers from several "scrap-savvy" chefs. Some of their tips?

  • Utilize roots as part of the dish. They can add a beautiful element, and depending on the type of vegetable, add a great bitter element.
  • Roast wilting vegetables like celery and carrots to bring them back to life.
  • Don't peel vegetables. Instead of shedding the outer layer of a carrot or cucumber, wash it well, and use the brilliant colors. Citrus peels? Send them to the bar for use in cocktails.
  • Purée wilting herbs with olive oil before they turn black. Then freeze them for later use.
  • Freeze berries on a tray rather than together so they don's stick to one another.
  • Use vegetable scraps, roots, tops, and greens to create vegetable stock.

These are just a few examples contained in James Beard's book on food waste, but the Beard name isn't the only one popping up in food waste reduction efforts. All across the country, famous chefs and culinary experts are joining the fray, as we look to reduce the amount of food we waste.

Wasted! The Story of Food Waste

A film from the late executive producer Anthony Bourdain, Wasted! The Story of Food Waste aims to change the way people buy, cook, recycle, and eat food. As seen through the eyes of some of the most famous chefs in the world, this documentary shows viewers how to make the most of our foods, transforming what most consider as scraps into incredible dishes.

Celebrity Chefs Across the Pond

In an article in Reuters, Chef Douglas McMaster described working in a previous job as a young cook, watching as hundreds of gem lettuces were thrown away as only the root was served... as a garnish. McMaster was the 2009 BBC Young Chef of the Year and now owns Britain's first zero-waste restaurant.

"We like to think of zero waste as not having a bin," McMaster said. "Every natural thing has a purpose, you just got to find out what that purpose is."

Food Waste Pop-Ups

Chef Dan Barber was featured in the first season of Netflix's critically-acclaimed series, Chef's Table. Barber has been called a "philosopher chef," and owns the prestigious Blue Hill restaurant in Westchester County, New York. He also owned a restaurant in Greenwich Village called Blue Hill, but changed it to a food waste pop-up called WastED, serving dishes from ingredients that would normally be headed for the trash.