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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.

Want More Like This? View the recording of our "Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021" webinar!

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Why Restaurants Are Important to Local Economies

Restaurant Open Sign

 

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants are challenged as patrons shelter in place and local regulations ban many dining rooms from reopening. While restaurants have certainly demonstrated the adaptability required as they've pivoted to curbside service and delivery, there's no doubting the importance of in-person dining to both our community psyche and our local economies.

For starters, consider a recent study that says of all things consumers want to do in a post-pandemic world, going to a restaurant is the top item. In fact, 62 percent of all respondents indicated this is the first thing they'll do. While restaurants are great for our collective psyche, they're also great for the economy. Considering just the independent restaurants -- not chains or other types of operations -- the number of people independent restaurants employ in New York City alone is greater than the number employed by the entire United States aviation industry. The Independent Restaurant Coalition has cited these facts and others as part of their campaign to help local economies.

But why are restaurants so important to local economies? Let's take a closer look.

Employ Locals

When you consider the number of people required to run a full-service restaurant -- from bartenders to dishwashers -- and then you factor in the number of meal services per day, there's no denying the power of foodservice when it comes to employing people. According to the National Restaurant Association, more than half of Americans have worked in foodservice at one point or another, accounting for nearly 16 million people employed by the restaurant industry at any given moment.

This is a great reason to support local restaurants during the current pandemic. Whether it be carryout or delivery, or even in-person dining when available and as consumers become more comfortable, supporting our local restaurants is paramount to supporting our local economies.

The Supply Chain

Many restaurants put money into the local economy. From paying rent or property taxes to utilities, restaurants pump a lot of cash into the local economy. More and more, restaurants are taking advantage of local suppliers to create farm-to-table menus, and this is more cash that flows into the local community.

Restaurants will run to the local grocery store for emergency supplies, and their delivery drivers stop at local convenience stores for gas. Plus, most of the employees that they employ will spend their paychecks locally, pumping even more money into the local economy. Most restaurants use local banks for deposits, and this also helps to keep the economy flourishing. All across the supply chain and in periphery businesses, supporting local restaurants helps support the local economy.

A Sense of Community

Every town in America has that one pizza place where the little league teams go after games or the barbecue joint where all the locals flock to pick up goodies for tailgating before the big game. Most people enjoy going out for a meal with family and friends. It provides a sense of camaraderie and community.

There are always certain restaurants in any town that everyone knows. Not only do they know the place, they know the people who work there or own it. In some ways, the sense of community created makes the restaurant as important to locals as their own kitchens. Some towns are known as foodie havens, and this sense of community comes from all the local and national businesses in the area.

Tourism

Food tourism is a big thing. People will go out of their ways or even plan trips just to try a particular restaurant or dish. You aren't going to go to Atlanta without eating at the Varsity or to San Francisco without dining at the Fog City Cafe. A town with a thriving restaurant culture can become a tourist destination all on its own. Also, when traveling by car, people will choose to stay the night in cities with a lot of good restaurants. You may find that part of the reason a person returns to your local community is that they love eating at a specific restaurant. A good local restaurant can make a huge difference for a town of any size, especially for attracting visitors.

Supporting the local community foodservice establishments will be an important foodservice trend in 2021. Discover more trends in our recorded webinar "Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021".

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2020 Year in Review: Healthcare Foodservice

Healthcare Foodservice 2020 Year in Review

Here are the highlights of our healthcare foodservice blogs from this year.

In the face of a global pandemic, we saw healthcare systems pushed to their limits. As we adapted to this new environment in 2020, we saw a change in how healthcare foodservice is handled, from delivery to sanitation to everything in between. Not only were these new solutions designed to keep patients safe, but healthcare staff safe as well.

Here are the highlights of what we saw transpire in healthcare foodservice this year:

Continue reading 2020 Year in Review: Healthcare Foodservice

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2020 Year in Review: Senior Care Foodservice

Here are the highlights of our senior care foodservice blogs from this year.

Senior care facilities were put on high alert early on during the Coronavirus pandemic. With residents at a higher risk than most, it has been vital for senior care staff to continue to deliver necessary foodservice safely. Meal delivery during COVID-19 has never been as important, and with the right tools, it was being done in a safe, effective manner. The changes we saw over the course of 2020 will no doubt impact how senior care foodservice is handled as we embark on the new year.

Here are the biggest takeaways of the significant changes we witnessed in senior care foodservice in 2020.

Continue reading 2020 Year in Review: Senior Care Foodservice

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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. Continue reading The COVID Resource Roundup

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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.

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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. Continue reading How Healthcare Foodservice Leaders Are Responding in 2020

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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.

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Did Someone Order Delivery? In-Room Service Gains Traction

In-Room Service Gains Traction Amongst Hospitals & Care Facilities Across The Country

The limitations and closures of gathering points in hospitals due to COVID-19 have impacted in-room service. However, special attention to in-room service was gaining traction well before the pandemic began. Doctors have always said food can be more than fuel for your body, and with the right nutrients, it can help in the healing process too. Some hospitals are using that concept, as well as patient experience, to change the stereotypes of hospital food for the better and improve patient satisfaction.  Let’s take a look at three healthcare facilities in particular that have started to take a more hospitality-inspired approach to in-room service.

UCLA HEALTH SYSTEM

Open 6:45 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., UCLA offers a restaurant ordering system where the kitchen cooks meals on-demand with menus updated to physician requested, plant-based meals with protein optional additions. Regularly scheduled tray service is still available to neuropsychiatry patients, which is why UCLA’s kitchen is separated into two sections to cater to both types of services.

Keeping in mind there is a 90-minute window between mealtimes, UCLA staff alternates between making and sending 25 trays to 1 unit in neuropsychiatric care and cooking and delivering room service tickets. This staggered approach has eliminated many challenges associated with offering both services.

Room service at UCLA is promised to arrive within 45 minutes but averages 28 minutes. What’s their secret? Food lifts.

Each floor has a dedicated cart with a timer for seven minutes. The cart is wheeled into the lift,  sent up to its designated floor, and the patient is immediately notified. To ensure quality, the cart enters into a pantry where hot and cold additions are added just before being taken to the patient, and the meal is delivered with food and drinks at the correct temperatures.

JOHNS HOPKINS HEALTH SYSTEM

John Hopkins offers Hotel-style, on-demand room service to their patients. They name this style of service the Johns Hopkins At Your Request program. Doctors realized there was a lot of food waste when they had patients ordering the day before, resulting in many being unavailable to receive their meals.

The John Hopkins At You Request program gives patients the flexibility to order their meals anytime between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and receive it within 60 minutes. To better accommodate nutritional diets prescribed to patients, John Hopkins also provides a nutritional department to help assist in meal decisions. Their diverse menu options are a significant factor in the success of the program.

The freedom to choose between traditional hospital foods like meatloaf and upscale items like salmon makes the patient feel satisfied with their meal experience, even when they don’t order the extravagant items. In fact, the majority stick with the traditional items, while the occasional upscale orders bring comfort to patients and family members who need it.

ST. JUDE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

St. Jude’s primary focus is on young patients and their families. Patients aren’t limited to in-hospital care, as many of their outpatients go through treatment at nearby housing sponsored by St. Jude and receive their customized meals there. They use a Combi Oven to deliver quality food within expectations of 30 – 45 minutes. As for their future plans for servie? They’re expected to upgrade their systems to TV-operated ordering services and explore newer cooking technologies. Nonetheless, their specialty is in the services they provide.

Considering the age of their patients, their happiness is a priority. The chef often greets patients with a hug and smile, with meals that are fully specialized to encourage the patient to eat and heal. So much so, that patients have even gone to the kitchen to teach the chefs how to make their food!

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The Impacts of Robotics in Health Care

Healthcare Robotics- Lakeside

In today’s environment, the healthcare industry has leaned heavily on technological advancements, particularly through the use of robotics and artificial intelligence.

Like many other industries, healthcare is impacted by a diverse group of factors. From the rising cost of coverage to meeting the challenges associated with labor shortages in the field, things are constantly changing. In order to deal with the reality of this landscape, the healthcare industry has leaned heavily on the technological advancements of today, particularly through the use of robotics and artificial intelligence.

Twenty-first-century healthcare has improved through these advancements, tapping into the potential of delivering quality care like never before. In a field that is overworked and in many cases understaffed, see how these new technologies are improving hospitals and care facilities all over the world. 

Robots Allow Clinicians More Time With Patients

A common misconception out there is that robotic technology and artificial intelligence will replace the healthcare labor force. This simply is not true. The job of these technologies is to complement clinicians’ skill sets, reduce workload, and free up time for healthcare professionals to carry out tasks and activities that will have a greater impact on patient care. Instead of carrying out administrative or repetitive tasks, clinicians can leave some of those responsibilities to robots, and focus on the aspect of their job that matters most: caring for their patients.

On average, primary care physicians work 11.2 hours per day. Nearly six of those work hours are spent interacting with electronic health data and records. There simply is too much data for one person or even a team of doctors to consume and analyze. With the help of robotic technology, and more specifically, AI systems, machines can scan thousands of records and cases in an instant, picking out correlations and patterns that can help treat patients with stunning accuracy. In a profession where time is of the essence, robots and AI can make amazing contributions with both speed and accuracy, allowing for longer, and more dedicated one-on-one care for doctors to have with their patients.

Covering Common Procedures

In most healthcare facilities, there are standard procedures that must be administered regularly to patients. Drawing blood, checking blood pressure, and administering shots are procedures that should be achieved regularly and with the same attention to detail. For these tasks, robots could prove to be quite an asset.

A recent study published by the journal Technology revealed some pretty remarkable findings. In the study, a robot device was successful at administering blood 87 percent of the time on the 31 participants in the trial. In previous studies, health care professionals recorded only a 73 percent success rate of patients with visible veins, while the robot device was successful 97 percent of the time. Utilizing robotic technology for these practices would guarantee that they were performed properly each time and save precious time for medical staff.

Improved Accuracy

In an industry where accuracy is critical and often the difference in life or death, developing technology that boosts accuracy to the next level is critical. In order to provide accurate diagnosis and treatments for patients, all data collected must be accurate. With robotics, administrative and recurring clinical duties, such as monitoring patient vitals or inputting patient data, will be achieved with remarkable efficiency.

The precision found in these robotics is unmatched by the human hand and potential errors that can happen. Take the Da Vinci surgical robot for instance. This amazing device has completed well over 6 million surgeries worldwide and equips surgeons with the ability to perform minimally invasive surgery with astounding accuracy. In addition, studies have shown that surgeries with this robot have resulted in far fewer complications following operations. With the help of robotics, surgeons will benefit from these devices greatly. By delivering small, precise incisions, robots provide immense value, allowing surgeons to not worry about possible human error such as fatigue or lack of range of motion.

Implementation Across The Entire Healthcare Landscape

Globally, Robot technology in healthcare facilities has ramped up because their benefits are too good to ignore. Not only do they allow for improved patient care, but they also impact cost savings and waste reduction, to name a few perks.

Throughout the United States, Automated Pharmacies that utilize robotic technologies are becoming extremely popular. Robots can update records sent from the hospital, label, package, store and fill prescriptions with ease and undeniable accuracy. Again, this allows pharmacists to free up time to educate themselves on medications and provide valuable insight and consultation for patients.

One of the rising trends in healthcare is telemedicine. With a shortage of health care professionals and the unavailability of specialized care in some remote locations, robotics provide a real solution to this issue. Complete with full audio, video, and camera capabilities, these telerobots provide timely communication, data tracking and enable clinicians the ability to remotely log in and speak with a patient.

Looking Ahead

There’s no denying, robotics and AI technology are rapidly changing the healthcare industry. Because of the many benefits related to cost, accuracy, and accessibility, care facilities are catching on and adopting these remarkable assets into their everyday operation. From surgical assistant robots to machines who carry out non-patient facing tasks like stocking and cleaning, these technologies are improving healthcare by leaps and bounds.