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One Easy Way to Save a LOT of Money on Senior Care Meal Service

The statistics are staggering. We waste as much as 40 percent of our food supply by throwing it away.

Essentially, that's like throwing away two $20 bills every time you bank out $100 from an ATM machine, and when you add it all up, it totals more than $160 billion annually. That's a lot of food, and it's certainly a lot of money.

Despite all the efforts by celebrity chefs like the late Anthony Bourdain to draw attention to these statistics and some of the creative efforts by countries and organizations to try to reduce it, food waste is still an enormous problem globally and is probably the biggest foodservice challenge here in the United States.

These facts are no different in healthcare generally and in senior care communities specifically. So how can it be reduced? Start by asking about the reasons food is thrown away, and the number one culprit is likely to be related to residents.

Essentially, food is being thrown away because though it may be served on the plate and lists are read, residents essentially don’t want it, aren’t eating it, and significant unwanted food is being thrown out.

Reasons Residents Choose Not to Eat and How to Prevent Those Foods from Being Wasted

PORTION SIZES

This is certainly the top contributor. If residents are receiving plates with too much food, a lot of that food is being thrown away. If patients are still hungry, they can always ask for more. But if those plates are portioned out with too much, that food cannot be reused and must be thrown away.

PREFERENCES

If meals are pre-determined in terms of what's being served, residents won't always have the chance to opt out of part of the plate they may not like. Food preferences can easily change but info sheets/tickets don’t always stay up-to-date. Standardizing plates that arrive without choice can result in foods being thrown away because they're not preferred.

STAFF MAKING ASSUMPTIONS

Too often, staff are in a rush and find it faster to make decisions on behalf of residents because they just assume they know what residents want. The problem is no one can decide really for someone else without a conversation. Too often in residential care, decisions are made on behalf of residents and this especially happens in the dining room on a daily basis.

What's the alternative? Self-determined meals.

How about this as a novel thought: Instead of bringing pre-selected plates to patients in a dining room, how about bringing the meal service to them so they can select what -- and how much -- they want, that follows all the CMS regulations and food safety guidelines. And it takes no extra staffing levels to do so.

By switching to this method alone, senior care communities can save enormous amounts of money on food that is typically thrown away. Even better, self-determined meals will also allow operators to provide a higher level of hospitality and results in residents more satisfied with the overall level of care received.

Does your senior care foodservice stack up?

You can learn more about ways to increase the level of foodservice in your senior care community, as well as how your operation rates, by taking our quick senior care foodservice assessment.

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How Demographics Are Impacting College and University Foodservice

Gone are the days of a college dining programs expecting to attract students just because it's located on campus.

Today's college students have smarter, savvier culinary preferences, and it's causing university foodservice operators to change their game to keep them on campus instead of crossing the street for something better. C&U operators understand that many students have the disposable income to dine off-campus.  Therefore, they must be competitive with both the variety and quality of their food offerings to keep them on campus.

However, what does "better" mean, and how do demographics drive it?

For starters, it's all focused on Generation Z, the largest demographic segment in the history of humankind. Based on Bloomberg analysis of United Nations data, Gen Z will comprise roughly one-third of the entire global population this year, edging out Millennials as the largest demographic for the first time.

Depending on which source your reference, a quick scan of the internet shows the following Gen Z character traits:

  • Less use of television
  • Hyper aware - they know what's going on all of the time
  • More focused on products versus experiences
  • Entrepreneurial and competitive
  • Motivated by security
  • Digital natives, having grown up with connectivity
  • Diverse and multicultural

So based on just a cursory review of Gen Z, how do their likes and dislikes, and general characteristics translate to college and university foodservice? How are they changing menus and service delivery? What hot flavor profiles do they crave?

Let's take a look.


If you're interested in the trends that will impact your foodservice program the most this year, download our e-report today!

 


ETHNIC FOODS

If Gen Z is the most diverse and multicultural generation in our nation's history, it goes without saying our college dining centers should reflect that. Additionally, college and university campuses are often filled with international students and faculty, giving on-campus dining facilities a greater reason to include ethnic and multi-cultural menu options. Flavor trends will certainly change from year to year, but the fact they're becoming more diverse will not.

PLANT-BASED FOODS

Gen Z is eating healthier for themselves and the world at large. They're looking for better ways to engage in sustainable practices, and food choices are a large part of those efforts. From salad bars to meatless burgers, college and university foodservice directors enjoy a growing list of products and ingredients that make it easier to provide meat-free meals. Plant-based or vegan menus also assist in keeping food cost at a reasonable level. Animal proteins are typically more expensive than plants and plant-based menus are better for the planet.

SUSTAINABILITY

Yes, we just mentioned sustainability to some degree by mentioning plant-based meals, and yes, we've already talked about sustainability on college and university campuses in a previous blog, but we cannot overstate how important sustainable practices are to Generation Z. From fresh and local sourcing, to sustainable seafood and antibiotic-free proteins, this generation cares about clean, sustainable food more than any in history.

A SENSE OF COMMUNITY

Though some say Gen Z is more concerned with a quality product than a quality experience, when it comes to dining, experiences still matter. Eating isn't just about feeling full or accessing nourishment; it's about finding a place to unwind, to socialize, and having a sense of community, an important aspect of college life that can often be so difficult to find for those who are new to campus.

"There's school or work and there's home, but how do you create this kind of third-place getaway?" asks Costel Coca, a design principal at Anaheim-based Webb Foodservice Design in an article in Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazine. "That's what companies like Starbucks have done so effectively, and that's where much of college and university dining is headed," he says. "When we start thinking about kitchens and foodservice, we're now starting with the experience and the story we want to tell in the facility before getting to its functional aspects. It's about a couple of key factors. One is a desire to create a neighborhood vibe, and that's being done, in part, via micro restaurants. We're designing restaurants more than we are food stations, and there's a heightened focus on the aesthetic value of the facility."

TECHNOLOGY

Generation Z is one of the digital natives, essentially meaning they were raised with smartphones from the very beginning. They've been "connected" their entire lives. With this level of technology usage comes an expectation that technology should make our lives easier, and this mentality extends to foodservice. From mobile ordering to convenient pick-up, the next generations expect technology to play a major role in how they eat. Sustainability is an important college and university foodservice trend. Would you like to learn about more relevant trends? Download our free 2019 Foodservice Trends Guide to see the other trends impacting our industry.

Demographics is just one of many factors that's already impacting college and university foodservice.  Be sure to download your copy of our e-report that lists the top trends you can expect in the 2019-2020 school year.

Lakeside and Multiteria have researched six other trends that will be important to colleges and universities in the 2019-2020 school year.  Download your free copy today to stay on top of the latest ideas and innovations that will help you maintain a first-class foodservice operation!

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4 Ways to Make Your College Foodservice Program More Sustainable

4 Ways to Make Your College Foodservice Program More Sustainable

Sustainability is not only popular amongst today's college-aged students; it's also an easy way to save money.

Sustainability is often seen as being more complicated than it really is.  Bottom line, the less we waste, the more we save. That goes for our reputations as well as our wallets.

More than ever, younger demographics of students are interested in foodservice that's not just good for their bodies. They're looking for foodservice that's good for the environment as well. A trip across campus at your old alma mater may look the same in some ways, but step into the student union dining hall and it might look totally different.

Today, colleges and universities have a wide range of foodservice delivery components. When properly combined, they can produce a process that helps create a more sustainable foodservice program.  The University of Michigan is a great example.  Their foodservice department is actively incorporating various sustainable practices with the goal to become carbon-neutral in 10 years.

While it's great to set the bar really high like this, it requires extensive planning and a great deal of patience to work a 10-year plan.  However, there's always some low-hanging fruit that's ripe for the taking and easy to grab too.  Here are some practical tips that you can immediately implement to help your college and university foodservice department become more sustainable right away:

FOOD WASTE

Food waste is by far one of the most important foodservice trends of 2019. As Americans, we waste roughly 40 percent of our entire food supply, and this is no different on our college campuses. Students are leading the way on many of these initiatives. Some prime areas to begin exploring college foodservice sustainability include programs that use sophisticated menu management systems to assist in forecasting, purchasing and production. Some software even measures and monitors food waste production in the dish room. Check out these food waste reduction resources from the Environmental Protection Agency for more ideas.

BUYING LOCAL

Many college and university operators buy local for many sustainable reasons, often to decrease the distances required to transport food.  Trucking and shipping not only add a layer of cost to ingredients, but they also add carbon to our atmosphere. More than ever in the history of college and university foodservice, operators are sourcing ingredients closer to campus from local farmers, ranchers and artisans, and in some cases, ingredients are grown or raised on campus.

CLEAN INGREDIENTS

Foods grown sustainably are often organic which means they're almost always antibiotic-free, hormone-free, and pesticide-free. Are there additional costs associated with better, cleaner ingredients? Of course, but students are driving these demands and they're also willing to pay the difference when they know they're helping contribute to sustainable efforts.

“When budgets are tight or there are pressures to raise revenues or save costs, it’s best to start with menu engineering,” says Shawn LaPean, a food consultant at Blendid, a manufacturer of autonomous robotic kiosks that prepare and serve custom blended beverages.  “For instance, instead of serving a 4 ounce burger, consider serving a 3 ounce burger to ensure you maintain a perception of value, whether you manage an ‘all-you-can-eat’ or a cash operation.”  Shawn further states that changing the portions slightly without lowering the value sometimes enables operators to afford to include sustainable and organic products on their menus instead of conventional products.  He also says that “sustainable and organic products from local suppliers is of primary importance to customers.”

UTILITIES & FACILITIES

The fourth main component to sustainability involves the amounts of utilities it takes to complete a service. Operators are looking to continuously improve the efficiency of every aspect of their operations - from water and gas, to electricity and refrigerant, the quantities you use impact the world as well as your wallet.

Foodservice is one of the largest consumers of energy over any other type of operation, and that's why foodservice equipment and supplies are so critical in reducing usage levels of our valuable resources. From on-demand ventilation, to energy-efficient blenders, a serious examination of the equipment used in a college or university kitchen can help reduce utility bills. There are many other ideas like these detailed in an article in Community College Daily.

Sustainability is an important college and university foodservice trend. Would you like to learn about more relevant trends? Download our free 2019 Foodservice Trends Guide to see the other trends impacting our industry.

Lakeside and Multiteria have researched 7 foodservice trends that will be important to colleges and universities in the 2019-2020 school year.  Download your free copy of this quick resource guide today to stay on top of the latest ideas and innovations that will help you maintain a first-class foodservice operation!

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The One Reason Food Waste Reduction Is So Popular

As good as it is for everyone involved, food waste reduction isn't as altruistic as everyone makes it out to be.

Yes, sustainability is one of our top 2019 foodservice trends (just 1 of 7 in our downloadable report). Yes, reducing food waste is one method to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption. And, of course, we want to do everything we can to effectively and efficiently deliver food into the hands of students and customers. But there's another reason college and university foodservice operations across North America are focusing on food waste reduction.

Money.

The reality is, we waste roughly 1.3 billion tons of the world's food supply annually. This accounts for a loss of nearly $990 billion. The United States wastes $160 billion of that total, accounting for as much as 40 percent of our food.

That's right. In the United States, we waste over one-third of our food. Imagine if we threw a $20 bill out the window every time we withdrew $50 from the ATM. That's essentially what is happening with our food supply, and as much as restaurants and foodservice operations want to do the right thing for both humanity and the environment, throwing away money is an even bigger reason to reduce food waste.

According to the non-profit organization, ReFED, which focuses on reducing food waste in the United States, there's a huge payoff when operations invest in sustainable measures. In their 2016 Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste by 20 Percent, they detail a benefit-to-cost ratio that is staggering:

For every $1 invested in food waste reduction, the savings potential can be as much as $8.

That's an incredible number. While operators know reducing food waste helps fight hunger, protect the environment, and even attracts important customer bases like Millennials and Gen Z who demand sustainable practices, the profit potential is enormous and appealing. Here are a few things to consider for your college and university foodservice operation:

RECONSIDER YOUR SERVICE.

Smaller plate sizes, smaller serving sizes, and even trayless dining are an easy way to reduce food waste. According to ReFED, smaller plates can reduce food waste by as much as 17 percent. On the buffet line, trayless dining reduces food waste as well. Lastly, reconsidering your menu can also have positive impacts when it comes to reducing food waste. To borrow a phrase, foodservice operations should "use the whole hog." For example, serve both the beet and the beet greens, thus eliminating some waste. Allowing guests to customize their meals should also be a consideration. By serving exactly what a customer requests, operators will reduce waste.

PLAN BETTER.

More accurate inventory management and production that are rooted in data can help save an operation thousands of dollars annually. According to ReFED, waste tracking and analytics can have the biggest business impact, helping the restaurant industry increase profits by as much as $266 million per year. Using this data to better plan for ordering and production schedules can help prevent overproduction, which is a big contributor to food waste.

DONATE UNWANTED FOOD.

Yep, giving food to those in need is a good thing for obvious reasons. There can also be a financial benefit too. Donating unwanted food is a recovery-based way to reduce food waste that can also provide your operation some tax incentives.

Reducing food waste is a sustainability initiative which is 1 of 7 key trends we cite in our 2019 College and University Foodservice Trends Report.

Lakeside and Multiteria have researched seven top trends that will be important to colleges and universities in the 2019-2020 school year.  Download your free copy today to stay on top of the latest ideas and innovations that will help you maintain a first-class foodservice operation!

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7 Ways Foodservice Operators Can Reduce Food Waste

Seven Ways Foodservice Operators Can Reduce Food Waste

Americans waste a ton of money on food. In fact, estimates show we throw away nearly 30% to 40% of our food supply.

How much does that total? Nearly $160 billion. Imagine if you threw away nearly a third of your money every time you opened up your wallet or pocketbook. It goes to show we don't need documentaries or people like Anthony Bourdain telling us to "use everything, waste nothing," though that certainly doesn't hurt.

The good news is our collective culinary conscious is quickly awakening to the food waste reduction challenge. This trend has been growing steady in recent years, making it onto foodservice trend lists ranging from the National Restaurant Association to our own 2019 Foodservice Trends Report.

So if everyone is starting to realize the importance (and profitability) of reducing food waste, what are some of the basic steps foodservice operations can take to make it happen?

RETRAIN OURSELVES

Study after study tells us "sell by" or "use by" dates are subjective and not accurate. Societal training tells us an apple or a tomato with a blemish or bruise isn't worthy of serving or eating. We often tell ourselves something is bad even though that very well might not be the case. If we learn to retrain ourselves with facts and to work with foods that may appear imperfect, we've taken the first step toward reducing food waste.

RETRAIN OUR STAFFS

Like most sustainability practices, training team members to be mindful of food waste can go a long way. Just like you might include shutting off lights in a walk-in as part of a process manual, including best practices for reducing food waste can work too, especially when training includes the cross utilization of ingredients.

TRACK WASTE

You can't reduce food waste unless you know how much you're throwing away in the first place. With food waste audits and data systems, operators can learn baseline key performance indicators that will provide goals for improvement in the future. Even better, the nonprofit ReFED recently issued a report called the Restaurant Food Waste Action Guide which states that tracking and analytics can benefit the restaurant industry by increasing profits by more than $250 million each year.

MANAGE THE ORDERING AND STORING

How is food packaged? Is there a way to break down shipments and store them in smaller, more useable portions? Are the storage facilities operating at optimal capacities? These are all questions that can help operations order the right levels of ingredients and store them in the right conditions. To reduce food waste, make sure production schedules are accurate.

GET CREATIVE

We throw away so many items that can be used in other applications with just a bit of creativity. Let's take the orange, for example. In the front-of-house, a bartender might carve off a twist every now and then to top off the perfect Negroni. The orange itself might go unused and wind up in the trash at the end of the shift. In the back-of-house, the saucier might use fresh oranges as part of a light cream to top that night's special dish, scallops l'orange. The rinds will probably go in the trash at the end of the night. Do you think these two people could use the same orange?

RETHINK THE MENU

There's no doubt about it. Much food waste falls directly on the customers. According to American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It), guests leave about 17% of food on their plates on average. By reconsidering portion sizes, offering half orders, or providing greater customization, less food will go in the can and more profit will come to the man.

GIVE BACK

All across America, we have food banks and non-profits that will take unused foods and give them to those in need. After all, if we can prevent 30% of our food from going in the trash, that food needs to wind up in the hands of those who need it the most. For operators, giving back can also bring financial benefits as well as altruistic ones. Many operations can experience donation tax incentives for giving unused food to these types of charities.

Food waste is one of the top micro trends of the overall trend of sustainability. Sustainability is listed as the second trend in our 2019 Foodservice Trends & Solutions e-Report, which you can download here. Check it out to review all 12 trends that we see as being most important to operators this year.

2019 Foodservice Trends Report CTA