Traditionally, stainless steel has been one of the most widely-used materials in commercial kitchens. And there's a reason for that.
Party in the front, business in the back. We're being forced to acclimate ourselves to both a new way of doing business and a new way of dining as consumers.
We’re living in the golden age of street-side dining, whether we like it or not. All across the country, the back-of-the-house is migrating to the front-of-the-house. This is the result of the void filled by the front-of-the-house moving to the patio, the sidewalk, and in some cases, even the street. Tables are now filling parking spaces that have been roped off. Streets are closed off to cars. In places nationwide, cities are turning roads into restaurants. In New York City alone, nearly nine miles of city streets are shut down to traffic to help provide for outdoor dining spaces for restaurants and bars. While this is a positive thing for restaurants helping them to move forward in the warmer months of summer, this street-side dining trend also creates some challenges.
Hospital and healthcare dining have been greatly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
To summarize the situation, the most profitable types of foodservice delivery have been limited, and higher patient censuses cannot make up for the difference.
Let’s take a closer look at the details.
In hospitals and in-patient healthcare facilities, the majority of the foodservice profits are made from staff dining and from visitors. When you factor in more and more staff members working from home and you eliminate the ability for many to visit patients because of the potential risks of the coronavirus, those central profit points are also eliminated.
These are certainly tough statistics, but the reality is healthcare operators are experiencing far less volatility than other types of foodservice operators. According to Datassential, only six percent of healthcare operators are completely closed during the pandemic.
What can we expect in the coming year for healthcare foodservice?
There are several changes that are here and will likely not change in the near future. With a focus on minimal contact, technology will play a key role in not just food ordering and delivery, but also in food production. Robotics will become more popular in a contact-less environment, as will sustainably packing for individually wrapped foods.
Along those same lines, buffets and self-serve options will become all but obsolete as we navigate COVID-19 conditions. As we’ve already seen this year, a complete rethinking of foodservice delivery methods will continue into 2021. With so much uncertainty, it will also be critical for foodservice directors to shore up their supply chains.
Here are some additional points to consider in late 2020 and early 2021 as it pertains to hospital foodservice operations.
HIGHER SPENDING ON DISPOSABLES
Current conditions have caused the cost of disposables to increase to a range of between $4,000 and $12,000 per month depending on the size of the community. This is caused across the entire spectrum of foodservice operation types. In restaurants, as full service dining starts to pick back up in many locations, some are considering a surcharge to cover the costs of disposables.
STAFFING COSTS ON THE RISE
In many cases, healthcare dining often translates to a self-serve environment. Today, operators are considering staffing options to eliminate the self-serve nature of these service types. More staff costs more money, of course. And so does all the time it takes to implement additional precautions to limit the spread of the virus.
THE GAMUT OF CHALLENGES
Foodservice directors in hospitals, in-patient healthcare facilities, and in long-term senior care communities are all facing some of the same challenges – maintaining safe distances in kitchens and dining facilities, increasing staff morale and safety, ensuring food safety along with quality, revenue, and more. The last thing these operations need are issues created by the equipment and supplies used to help solve these very challenges.
WHERE TO START
Interested in how to re-purpose some of your current equipment? Looking for efficient ways to handle meal delivery, sanitation, social distancing, and more? Than check out this inspiration guide for COVID-19 Solutions.
What steps should you take to ensure the safety of your foodservice operation?
COVID-19 Basics in the Food Industry
In the midst of this global pandemic, it is critical for our customers to be aware of COVID-19 and what it means for our industry. The coronavirus and subsequent COVID-19 disease has made its way across the globe, and it’s having impacts on the foodservice industry that have never been seen before.
First, it’s important to know the coronavirus is spread through direct contact of person to person and airborne droplets. If the virus makes its way onto a surface, it can live anywhere from 24-72 hours.
If someone touches a surface that has been contaminated by someone else with the virus, they can contract it if they do not wash their hands immediately. Washing your hands before touching your mouth, nose, or eyes will kill the virus and the best type of prevention.
More details and guidelines can be found here from the CDC.
From prep to presentation, take a quick look at meal delivery with the SuzyQ
As we continue to navigate the world of COVID-19, we’re seeing changes in the ways foodservice is delivered. Nowhere is this more important than in senior care and longterm care communities.
As we’ve all seen, older populations are the most vulnerable demographic, and new regulations have been devised to help protect them. One of the most important is to move dining service from dining rooms and common spaces, opting instead for personal, in-room delivery.
In healthcare, mealtimes can be some of the most anticipated and enjoyable times of the day.
There's no doubting the fact people love food. We love the way it tastes, the way it feels in our mouth, the way it nourishes us. We love the socialization that usually comes with food. Dining is an experience. And most important, it's good for our mental health.
Nowhere is this more true than in our senior care and long term care communities. According to one study on senior care and foodservice, "mealtimes are a mainstay of life through which residents' experiences are characterized, exemplified, and magnified. In the study, the three themes that impact a resident's experience were emotional and psychological connections with other residents, managing competing interests with limited resources, and familiarity and routine.
Food and meals touch on all three.
1) Food brings residents together. Though traditionally in communal dining areas, meals are enjoyed together and provide opportunities for conversation and socialization.
2) Food provides a sense of control. When residents have meal choice, when they can literally decide what goes on their plate and what doesn't, it provides an element of control that can often be hard to come by for residents in long term communities.
3) Food provides routine. For many in long term communities, mealtimes provide needed stabilization in terms of day-to-day routines. When you know you're going to eat lunch every day at 11:30, it provides welcome familiarity
Senior Care Foodservice in the Age of COVID
Today, of course, we're living in an entirely different world. The processes by which food is served in these types of communities have been turned upside down, and foodservice directors are doing whatever they can to help residents still achieve the three points above, the points that are so critical to the mental health and well-being of our seniors living in these communities.
The reality is, communal dining has pretty much been taken away from us due to the potential exposure created by the Coronavirus. Operations across the country are moving to models where food is ordered and delivered directly to residents' rooms.
In terms of socialization, foodservice staff need to be creative. They need to understand the personal delivery of food in a resident's room is still the highlight of the day in many cases, but now that highlight comes without the ability to dine with friends. Those brief interactions when food is delivered become critical for the well being of residents.
Choice is still choice. In some ways, the concept of calling in an order and receiving it delivered can be kind of fun for residents. Play up that angle. When residents are restricted from the dining room, creative room service can be a fun way to provide some joy.
And, lastly, food is still part of the routine. Though that routine may be a bit different, it still provides consistency in someone's day, allowing them to feel reassurance that what someone is used to will continue.
Just because COVID-19 has changed senior care foodservice doesn't mean everything is changed for the worse.
Discover the basics of this new era of senior care foodservice by learning more from our resident senior care expert. From new and creative ways to deliver food, as well as the systems that need to be in place to accomplish it, watch on-demand, or download, our webinar "Customer Confidence in Food Safety".
As a result of the planning that’s happening across the country, many school nutrition programs are considering solutions that might help provide some versatility and safety for serving students in the COVID era.
Parents across the country are terrified. While there’s a lot of uncertainty out there today in a hyper-charged world, the thing that most impacts parents are the closures of schools. And even today, months after our initial stay-at-home orders went into effect, many school districts still don’t know what things will look like in 2020-21.
Guess what? Neither do school nutrition directors who are in charge of feeding our kids.