Traditionally, stainless steel has been one of the most widely-used materials in commercial kitchens. And there's a reason for that.
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".
Healthcare foodservice operations are multifaceted and complex. When you think about the different types of service required, it’s easy to understand why foodservice equipment needs to be dynamic, durable, and versatile in order to achieve operational objectives. When you consider the coronavirus and resulting COVID-19, those operations are even more complex.
In general, there are two types of operations, and within those operations, there are two types of service. There are additions, for sure, but as a rule of thumb, healthcare foodservice falls in either inpatient or out-patient applications. Within those applications, it’s either in-room dining for patients or residents, along with outside-the-room dining for medical staff and guests.
Let’s take a quick look at how COVID is impacting these distinct areas of healthcare foodservice.
SENIOR CARE & LONG TERM COMMUNITIES
As we look at inpatient care in the age of COVID, one of the hardest-hit segments of healthcare is, without a doubt, senior care and long term communities. This is due, in large part, because of age and compromising health conditions of residents.
Serving meals has largely gone directly to the residents’ rooms, as congregating in a dining room is much too dangerous for these populations. This, in turn, puts quality in jeopardy. Food must obviously be delivered safely, but the more time that elapses between the back-of-the-house and the bedside, the greater the chances food will lose heat, retain too much moisture, or even become unsafe.
There can be many solutions to these challenges. First is ensuring that plate warmers on the line are working properly and plates are the right temps. Plates should be between 140-190 degrees coming out of the warmer. Consider a laser thermometer to do spot checks on the top, middle, and bottom plates to confirm best results. Next is getting the food plated and covered as soon as possible and into a tray cart for delivery. Timers used in conjunction with a line up of tray carts are a great way to be sure meals aren’t plated and in the kitchen too long.
If the community is not using trays, consider a mobile steam table that goes door-to-door. This allows residents to choose exactly what they want and get hot food plated up right in front of them. Don’t forget to have a hydration cart or other way to serve dry goods on hand as well.
Like senior care and long term communities, hospitals must also provide foodservice for inpatient applications. In this case, though, patients are often amidst serious health conditions that make the success of a foodservice operation dependent on the health of the patient. Of course, the inverse is true, as well.
In the age of COVID, making sure meals arrive at patient rooms while reducing the risk of potential exposure is critical. Sanitizing dinnerware and flatware to recommended standards is critical, and changing ordering practices can help minimize person-to-person risks. Like in senior care communities, hospitals can also adapt phone ordering as a way of eliminating potential exposure risks.
In hospitals, staff and patient guests must also be part of the foodservice equation. What are some of the ways to minimize risk to these groups? In many cases, buffet-service cafeterias are a primary source of service. Retrofit them to become more staff-service instead of self-serve. Provide ample spacing and prevent overcrowding with signs and barriers. And in dining areas, space tables to sufficient distances.
WHAT’S GOOD FOR HEALTHCARE FOODSERVICE IS GOOD FOR OUR HEALTH
It’s clear that food can have great impacts on our health and well-being. That’s never truer than in the facilities and communities where health is typically the main reason for being there. In order to get well, we need to consider foodservice solutions that promote wellness. And in the age of COVID, that means minimizing invisible risks we never thought possible in the ways we’re experiencing them today. That being said, there are equipment solutions and processes that can help.
COVID-19 has taken a toll across cities, states, and nations. As it continues to spread and change the way we view day to day life, understanding the best ways to sanitize equipment, ourselves, and the places we spend our time at is critical.
As we’ve seen over the last few weeks and months, the coronavirus and the subsequent disease it causes, COVID-19, can have horrific effects on the residents and staff in senior care communities.
In part, this is likely due to the fact the disease has harsher impacts on our older population. It is also likely attributed to the close quarters in which everyone lives in senior care and long term communities. This means it’s even more important to make sure meal preparation and delivery are completed with care.
As a result, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have issued new guidelines for these types of operations. It puts critical limitations on visitors and personnel who have access to senior and long-term care communities in order to help shield residents from potential infection.
“As we learn more about the Coronavirus from experts on the ground, we’ve learned that seniors with multiple conditions are at the highest risk for infection and complications, so CMS is using every tool at our disposal to keep nursing homes free from infection,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Temporarily restricting visitors and nonessential workers will help reduce the risk of Coronavirus spread in nursing homes, keeping residents safe. The Trump Administration is working around the clock to ensure the continued safety of America’s health care system, particularly nursing homes.”
This is where the SuzyQ Cart System can help foodservice directors.
We’ve talked about how SuzyQ can benefit both residents and operators in a dining room setting. There’s no doubt it can help solve labor challenges and provide for self-determined meal choices in group settings, but it can also do that in other ways, as well.
One of the ways senior care communities are required to fight the potential spreading of the coronavirus is to eliminate meal times in the dining hall to avoid a cluster of too many people at once. As a result, these meals are now being taken directly to the residents’ rooms for in-room dining.
Now, this is where self-determined meals can be even more important. Because foods need to be transported across longer distances, preserving the quality of food and providing residents with choice a critical way to meet person-centered guidelines while avoiding food waste and preserving safety.
The state-of-the-art delivery SuzyQ Cart System contains features that provide these types of benefits. It’s guest-pleasing and cost-saving for operators.
Watch the recorded webinar for free from Registered Dietitian and Certified Dietary Manager, Suzanne Quiring for a review of COVID19 and what Food Service professionals need to lean into during this national crisis. Topics covered:
- Infection control
- Good food handling techniques
- Staff communication
- Practical ideas on providing meal service when a dining room can't be used
- Resources to support your leadership role needs during this uncertain time
When it comes to foodservice on campus, one of the biggest assets is versatile equipment.
What does that mean, specifically? Units that can be moved around, from inside service to events held outside on the quad. Units that can get larger or smaller depending on the crowd size or the available space. Units that can stand up to the wear and tear of campus life while still looking upscale.
The Retail X-Tension from Multiteria is a foodservice counter that can achieve these objectives and more, whether it's on a college campus or outside a high school gymnasium. Let's take a look.
The Multiteria Retail X-Tension allows operators to serve a variety of menu items in a variety of locations. With chalkboard signage, those displays are obvious and enticing and can change from one service to the next. Along with easy setup, which takes 15 minutes or less, operators can move from grab-n-go breakfast in the morning to lunch service in the afternoon to a concession stand outside the basketball game at night.
Snacks, beverages, fruit, and even food warming are all possible with the Retail X-Tension. This menu diversity, when coupled with locational diversity the unit provides, means underused spaces can be turned into profit centers quickly and efficiently. Courtyards, corridors, hallways, outdoor sporting venues, verandas -- they can all become profitable locations.
In terms of design, the Retail X-Tension will fit through any standard-sized doorway, and the extension counter slides out with ease to create an easy setup. As with any foodservice display, lighting is important, and the Retail X-Tension comes with LED overstructure lighting that helps illuminate your food and beverage items. An optional bracket will hold a digital menu monitor for an even more enhanced display.
Ready to speak with an expert about the Multiteria Retail X-Tension? Schedule a free assessment with one of our reps today, and discover all the final benefits to see if they're right for your service.
As you look at the organization of your commercial kitchen, you likely have mise en place front of mind.
This French term for "to put things in place" is a method that helps chefs prepare ingredients and organize equipment in anticipation of a busy service.
In order to execute an effective mise en place strategy, it is important to have the right equipment. With over 70 years of experience, Lakeside offers a diverse product line. This product line, along with collaboration with end-users and foodservice consultants, allows Lakeside to provide its customers with the equipment they need. Lakeside offers three mise en place solutions to help set your kitchen up for success.
Read on to learn more about how our mise en place stations can help optimize your kitchen's efficiencies.
Lakeside Mise En Place Carts
Lakeside's three mise en place stations offer a number of great features. Each model includes a stainless steel top frame built to hold a full-size pan. It can also accommodate smaller pans with standard inserts or a cutting board.
The cart has integrated handles on both sides, allowing it to hold a 1/3 pan or two 1/6 pans. A detachable speed rail with an integrated towel bar allows you to use the carts to arrange and hold the ingredients for your mise en place, including spices, seasonings, bottles, and sauces.
All models are ADA compliant so can be used by any member of your staff.
This model can be moved and adjusted as needed for your space. It includes a cantilevered H-base with four small casters that are all-swivel with brakes. This enables the cart to roll under ranges for optimal use and storage options. Adding to its versatility, Model 140 is 21x38 inches but has an adjustable-height top, so it to be modified to suit your needs.
This mise en place cart is Lakeside's classic model. It has an overall size of 17.5 x 38 x 35 inches and includes four 3.5 inch casters that swivel.
If you are concerned about shipping costs and are confident in your assembly abilities, you can consider opting for Model 145. This offers the same, classic set-up as Model 146 but comes unassembled, reducing costs associated with shipping and storage. We know some people just like building things, so with our easy-to-follow instructions, it should be a sinch!
Benefits of Lakeside Carts
Each of the Lakeside mise en place carts assists you in providing menu innovation without compromising the existing kitchen layout. Efficient layout will allow the chefs in your commercial kitchen to organize ingredients and equipment in a way that makes the most sense for their process. The carts are also versatile, perfect for tableside meal prep and customization.
Lakeside mise en place carts will enable chef and staff in commercial kitchens to:
- Organize cooking equipment and utensils;
- Peel, wash, chop, or dice vegetables;
- Trim and portion meat;
- Prepare fish fillets; and
- Keep spices close at hand
The above are just suggestions. The beauty of Lakeside mise en place carts is that how they are used can be unique to each member of the kitchen staff. In addition to organization, mise en place carts also promote menu planning, inventory management, and kitchen cleanliness.
Contact Lakeside Today
Whether you know exactly which mise en place carts are right for your kitchen or you need help strategizing the best fit, Lakeside is here to help. If you don't see exactly what you need, we are happy to work with you to develop exactly what you need by modifying a standard product or specially designing a product for your unique application
Uniformity is important when it applies to the food coming out of your commercial kitchen. You want everyone to experience the same beautifully plated food and your diners expect food that tastes the same as it did the last time they tried it.
Unfortunately, the people preparing that food are not uniform in size and stature. The same countertop that is comfortable for a 5' 6" prep cook can cause a 6' 2" cook to hunch over in pain. The one-height-fits-all set up typically found in commercial kitchens isn't ergonomically sound. In fact, it's frequently the cause of neck, back, and shoulder pain.
The High Cost of Poor Ergonomics
Muscle strain resulting from a hunched position may result in employee absences or even Workman's Compensation claims. According to a study done by the University of California's Ergonomics Project Team, food preparation was one of the five areas chosen as being at most risk of ergonomic-related injuries. Those injuries were very common and often severe due to the nature of working in a kitchen. It's frequently quite physical, involving awkward positions, physical exertion, and repetitive motions. All of these factors increase the chances of employee injuries.
The Ergonomics Project Team based their choice of the five areas on:
- Analysis of the various tasks being performed
- Direct observation coupled with front line experiences at different locations
- Analysis of Workers' Compensation claims
- Literature review
One of their suggestions for reducing the risk of ergonomic-related injuries was to: "Adjust the height of work surfaces to better fit individual employees." Wow, we could have told them that! So could any kitchen worker whose height doesn't match that of standard countertops.
Uncomfortable Workstations Impact Productivity
It's hard for employees to focus on the task at hand if they're in pain. Just being uncomfortable can negatively impact their efficiency and productivity. It can also increase their chances of injuring themselves. A user-friendly kitchen keeps employees' comfort and efficiency at the forefront of its design.
Designing workstations that make your employees' comfort and safety a priority improves workplace morale while increasing efficiency and productivity. Providing workstations that are as varied in height as your employees will make many jobs easier to accomplish and more comfortable. That, in turn, can reduce employee stress.
It will also improve productivity since ergonomic design is all about helping employees complete the most tasks in the shortest time with the least amount of effort. An ergonomically-designed kitchen is better for your employees and better for your bottom line!
Finding the Right Solution
At home, you can simply stack cutting boards or stand on a step stool as a temporary solution to an uncomfortable counter height. However, neither of those home kitchen hacks are feasible for a busy commercial kitchen. In fact, they could be downright dangerous!
Solutions for commercial kitchens involve creating workstations of varying heights. These can include the standard countertops, perhaps installed at varying heights. Mise en place carts, work tables with adjustable legs, and utility carts of different heights are other options for flexible workstations that will fit a range of employee heights and statures.
Any height differential solution should also include Lakeside's cutting board riser. This stainless steel riser elevates a prep station to a comfortable working height. Slide a waste pan into the open end for easy cleanup or use it for storage. The cutting board riser even features a handy recessed lift handle to make it easier to move between stations. Its sleek, stylish design allows it to double as a culinary display riser when it isn't needed in the kitchen. Having several of these versatile risers on hand will allow you to make full use of all of their great features.