Posted on

Foodservice Equipment and Supplies for Reopening

As the vaccination distribution begins to ramp up, you're looking towards reopening your restaurant or foodservice business. However, you want to do so safely, and you know that Americans will always look at safety differently in the wake of COVID-19. This makes it an ideal time to create a plan for additional safety along with a list of the equipment and supplies you're going to need to reopen with safety as your main focus.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Grab & Go Kiosks

Whether you're offering up hot or cold items, these grab-and-go kiosks keep cold items cold and hot food hot. There are several styles and sizes to choose from. You can select a kiosk that comes with shelves above the main heating and cooling section for items that don't need climate control, such as chips, pretzels, or fresh fruit. These shelves can also increase impulse purchases as the customer grabs a bag of chips to go with their cold soda or hot sandwich. You can even have your company name or logo printed on the side.

Mobile Food Carts

Similar to the grab-and-go kiosks, these mobile food carts make it easy for you to offer both hot and cold food offerings except they have wheels to move it where it'll attract the most customers. You can choose among a variety of laminate colors to complement your company logo. The mobile food carts can include custom graphics to use as an advertising source. The cabinets open easily to making cleaning or draining melted ice a snap. A shelf at the end of the cart is a great location for napkins, condiment packets, or plastic cutlery.

Condiment Dispensers

Buying individual packages of condiments is too expensive unless you're offering to-go only options. Condiment dispensers are easier to clean than leaving ketchup or mayonnaise jars out for customers to use. You can easily fill the condiment dispenser and get back to the work you need to do. With dispensers, you can provide more condiment choices and more available products, so you don't spend a lot of time restocking. Also, dispensers help with portion control. You need to create a system for keeping the parts touched by humans hand cleaned and frequently wipe them down with a sanitizer but it's easier and safer than individual bottles.

Clear Partitions

In order to protect both your customers and employees, you need clear partitions set up around your restaurant or food service area. You might put up a partition at the point of sale and in between tables and booths. Anything that you can do to keep different people from introducing their germs to others is a positive. When planning on installing clear partitions, you need to put a plan in place for cleaning and sanitizing them. This should become as second nature as wiping down the tables and seats between customers.

Hand Sanitizer and Disinfecting Wipe Stands

Americans have become very conscious of keeping their hands clean and their surfaces sanitized. By installing either a hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipe stand in your restaurant or foodservice operation, you can provide your customer base with extra peace of mind. Making these products readily available to your clients and customers helps to minimize the transfer of germs and other contagions. These stands are easy to set up and restock with supplies.

Alluserv is dedicated to partnering with restaurants and foodservice organizations as they reopen safely to the public. We offer a full line of products and equipment to help you keep your company cleaner and safer for your clients and staff.

Posted on

Six Essential Senior Care Mealtime Elements

Chef serving senior care resident in their room and handing meal tray

No matter who we are or where we live, mealtimes are often some of the most enjoyable moments of the day. We get to spend time with friends and family. We can order or decide to cook things that will meet our cravings. And we can take a few moments to slow down and relax. For residents of senior or long-term care communities, meals can provide the exact same benefits.

“Mealtimes are a mainstay of life through which residents’ experiences are characterized, exemplified, and magnified,” one study found. To understand just how important meals can be, consider this. They play an integral role in the emotional and psychological connections residents feel with other residents. Meals can help residents manage competing interests with limited resources, and they can provide an element of familiarity and routine that is so important.

On an even more granular level, food and mealtimes can provide three critical components. First, they bring people together. Through what are traditionally communal dining spaces (an area that has been challenging during the Covid pandemic), opportunities are created for socialization that are critical to a person’s mental health.

Second, food provides a sense of control. In a senior care community, this can mean selecting a certain entrée off a menu or even choosing to double up on a helping of green beans instead of receiving a plate of mashed potatoes a particular diner might not even like. With a demographic that tends to lose control of many health-related issues, having control at the dinner table can enhance the importance of mealtime.

Finally, meals provide structure and routine. These points of the day can provide much-needed stabilization and familiarity. In some situations, due to deteriorating mental capacities, the structure meals provide can be critical to a resident’s well-being.

The 3 Principles for Successful Senior Care Dining

Now that we understand the importance of senior care foodservice, what does a successful operation look like? This is an important question, and no matter where you end up in the ensuing discussion, that conversation must always begin with the safety of the residents. First and foremost, successful senior care foodservice should be safe and nourishing, promoting the overall good health of those who eat the food.

According to the Pioneer Network, food and dining are the core components of quality of life in long-term care communities, and they can be defined in three important ways.

STATEMENT 1: Choice of food has a tremendous impact on quality of life.

In fact, some say it actually defines it. Food can provide many amazing benefits, and those positive attributes begin with choices. Ask a few simple questions. What does the resident want? For example, how did he or she do things before moving in, and how can those things be replicated within the community's foodservice program? What to eat, when to eat, where to eat, and with whom are all important things to determine.

STATEMENT 2: We do not assume that just because residents may not be able to make a choice in some parts of their lives, they cannot make choices related to dining.

When both residents and staff are well-educated on matters of choice, when staff is trained to look for the right things, and when residents have consistent relationships with staff members who can advocate for them, even residents with impaired decision-making capabilities can experience choice as it relates to dining. Studies show that cognitive impairment does not impact choice-making, and people with mild to moderate cognitive impairment can still provide input on food choices and successfully make many of those decisions. Let’s honor this.

STATEMENT 3: Mealtime dining studies provide evidence that enabling residents to choose what they want to eat at mealtime does not result in negative nutritional outcomes.

In fact, it's quite the opposite. When residents have a choice at mealtimes, it actually enhances the nutritional impact of meals. Even more important, it increases not just resident satisfaction, but also the satisfaction of staff, caregivers, and family members.

Partners in success: Lakeside can help promote the positive benefits of foodservice in senior care communities.

Lakeside foodservice believes in honoring residents' fundamental right to self-determination at mealtime. Bringing hot, safe, flexible meal choices to residents is our goal and we are here to help your community accomplish this with SuzyQ carts, hydration carts, action stations, and more.

Posted on

The Essential Role of Nutrition in COVID-19 Recovery

COVID-19 forced healthcare foodservice programs to do a complete 180 in how they serve and deliver food. We've heralded the role of food in healthcare and its healing power, but the coronavirus presents new and unheard-of nutritional challenges for dietitians. So how are they using nutrition to help patients as they fight and recover from COVID-19?

Malnutrition already increases the risk of someone getting sick, staying sick, and worse — dying. Add that into a pandemic, and delivering proper nutrition to sick individuals has never been more vital to the recovery process.

COVID Challenges for Dietitians

For starters, the COVID-19 pandemic has put dietitians in an unenviable position when it comes to working directly with patients. Lack of PPE and isolation requirements often prevent dietitians from performing their typical nutrition-focused exams to identify nutritional problems. Relying on telehealth and virtual exams are available for some facilities, but often a reliance on doctors and nurses to provide dietitians with nutritional updates is necessary.

With up to a quarter of COVID-infected people requiring ICU admission, nutrition is essential in the fight against coronavirus symptoms and helping patients recover quickly. Studies show that these ICU patients, who are often put on ventilators for multiple weeks, will become weaker and lose valuable muscle mass.

Nutrition is one of the best kinds of medicine to fight the virus head-on.

Using Nutrition to Fight COVID

A recent Food Management article on patient nutrition discussed both the challenges and strategies to providing proper nutrition to patients infected with the coronavirus. Some obstacles to nourishing COVID-19 patients include the common symptoms like loss of taste and smell or gastrointestinal distress, while other more severe symptoms like post-ventilator swallowing, respiratory issues, and even psychological ailments ranging from disorientation to depression create more obstacles to recovery.

With all the hurdles to providing nutrition to the people who need it the most, how are dietitians helping get these patients back on the road to recovery through the power of food?

High-calorie and high-protein provide a boost in energy and nutrients in each meal. Nutritional supplements and hydration are also key, especially for people with a lack of appetite to ensure they are receiving nourishment, even when they may not feel up to the challenge. Smaller meals are recommended for patients with poor appetites or respiratory problems so as not to force their bodies to become overworked. Even foods with different ranges of spice can help patients dealing with a loss of taste or smell.

Make Patient Nutrition Easier With the Right Tools

Healthcare foodservice programs everywhere are adapting their methods of meal delivery during COVID-19, and Lakeside is here to help you get the tools you need to keep patients, guests, and staff well-nourished. From meal and tray delivery carts for in-patient dining, hydration service, mobile grab-and-go solutions for guests and staff, and handwashing and PPE storage and transport solutions, Lakeside has you covered.

Alluserv has the COVID-19 Product Solutions you need! Learn about these solutions in our COVID-19 Resource Guide. 

Posted on

How Foodservice Is Going Touch-Free

One thing we all know for certain is that the current COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way we look at foodservice and the restaurant industry. What many don’t know, though, is that 76 percent of consumers say it’s changed how they look at public behavior forever. This means many of the pivots and transitions we saw in 2020 are likely to still exist in 2022 and beyond.

One important pivot in food and beverage was the shift toward low-contact and touch-free dining. According to Modern Restaurant Management, 38 percent of people say they’re worried about touching things others have touched, while 28 percent say being near other people makes them nervous. Add them up, and it translates to low-engagement transactions creating consumer confidence.

So how exactly are foodservice operations and restaurants going touch-free?

ORDERING

It all starts with the ability to order, and thanks to mobile apps and online ordering systems, it’s getting easier and easier to navigate menus, make selections, and place orders. Even for in-person dining, reducing touch points can be important, and scanning QR codes to reveal menus is a great way to reduce the number of things a customer has to touch.

PAYMENT

This goes hand-in-hand with ordering, and most mobile ordering applications also include the ability to pay and add gratuity, as well. With technologies like Apply Pay, in-person diners can often just scan their phones to pay by credit card, which also reduces the number of things restaurant staff members have to touch.

PICK-UP

Pick-up is often the point in the transaction when the diner encounters restaurant staff or even other customers. This means it’s critically important to make sure everything is smooth and efficient. Counters need to be sanitized between customers, and technologies like pick-up lockers that can be open with mobile phones further enhance the touch-free concept. When customers pick up foods, this is also the time when they might pick up utensils and condiments. Touch-free carts and serving stations can help mitigate any potential dangers

TOUCH-FREE WILL ONLY CONTINUE.

Unfortunately, we’re not out of the woods yet, and even when we are, we suspect there will be a greater emphasis on sanitation, safety, and low-touch environments. There will still be customers who only want to push open the door. That’s it.

Lakeside can help you assemble the needed equipment for a touch-free foodservice operation.

Alluserv offers various COVID-19 product solutions. Let us help you find the best way to offer low-contact and touch-free dining. 

Posted on

The State of Our Food Supply

 

From dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks to pursuing solutions that allow foodservice operations to stay operational, things have been increasingly challenging in the last year. At the very beginning of the pandemic, there were concerns about food shortages as it relates to processing and distributing our food supply, and those challenges continue in varying forms today.

Let's start back at the beginning when the national food supply was in possible jeopardy and was an unknown factor. Many people rushed to grocery stores to stock up for weeks and even months on canned and frozen goods. This left grocery shelves bare and consumers terrified for what was to come.

The industry that struggled the most during this period was the meat processing business.  With heavy staffing working in proximity, many processing staff members fell ill with the coronavirus causing many plants to close. Companies responded, though, and measures were put in place such as temperature scanning, social distancing, and increased sanitation. By June, meatpacking was back to operating at roughly 97%, as reported by WebMD.

While the initial scare put us in a world of uncertainty, we slowly began to find a balance. More resources were available, and shelves were less bare. What we learned was the importance of keeping staff healthy across the entire foodservice spectrum, from grocery stores to restaurants to delivery drivers to meat processing plants.

As the virus continues to sweep across the United States, many are now worried that the industry won't suffer from a supply shortage but rather a staffing shortage. Even with new regulations and rules set in place, extra cleaning, and additional precautions, people are still testing positive for COVID-19.

Critical labor is being put at risk in order to keep our food supply functioning, leaving many questioning if their jobs are worth that risk. On the other end of the spectrum, many are still seeking jobs and a surplus of people are working from home, keeping grocery stores flooded with business.

New solutions are popping up daily to help prevent the spread of the virus as well as assist in keeping operations functioning, and even in the initial scare, most weren't going hungry due to a lack of food supply. Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics reported the biggest vulnerability for food insecurity was due to the loss of jobs from lost income with collapsing prices and lowered market demand.

While there's still concern over the potential changes in the industry as we continue to deal with the pandemic, for the foreseeable future food supply looks promising and reliable.

For a full list of all available COVID-19 product solutions, we encourage you to visit our main COVID-19 Resources page. 

Posted on

Reducing Waste for Restaurant Delivery and Takeout

As a restaurant, it's important to offer convenient options for people on the go. Takeout is becoming increasingly popular, and that's great news for businesses and for consumers. However, it can also lead to increased waste. For this reason, it's important to maintain high sustainability standards. This will not only reduce your costs but will also increase your appeal to many of your customers and contribute to a healthier planet.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

From a financial perspective, this initiative saves a lot of money for your restaurant. On average, you'll have about $5,091 that you can put towards other expenses, or better yet, profit.

Of course, these practices are also much more sustainable when it comes to preserving our beautiful planet. Litter from take-out orders alone accounts for approximately 269,000 tons of plastic pollution in the earth's oceans. Furthermore, the majority of packaging we use every day goes into our landfills, which significantly increases our carbon emissions. Climate change is a major issue facing our society today, and we must do everything we can to improve our planet for future generations.

Lastly, you'll likely attract more clientele if you participate in initiatives that reduce environmental waste: A staggering 73% of consumers would definitely like to change their habits so that they can reduce their carbon footprint. This could potentially lead to more revenue for your business in the long run.

ASK YOUR CUSTOMERS IF THEY WANT NAPKINS WITH THEIR FOOD

This may seem like a small action, but it makes an enormous difference. Many customers would rather just use their own cloth napkins and reduce their waste. A majority of the paper napkins handed out in to-go bags are never even used. 

USE FOOD DELIVERY APPS THAT OFFER YOUR CUSTOMERS SUSTAINABLE ALTERNATIVES

Food delivery apps such as Postmates, GrubHub, and UberEats allow your customers to indicate whether they'd like utensils or not. This is super convenient for everyone involved and it also reduces your environmental impact significantly.

You can also ask your clients what their preferences are. Perhaps you want to add a feature on your website that gives them the option to opt for no utensils, straws, or condiments. This initiative will help your restaurant reduce its environmental impact significantly.

LIMIT PLASTIC AND PAPER PLATES

Of course, you want your customers to have an amazing experience eating your delicious food, and sometimes that might mean providing them with paper plates. However, a lot of people are trying to reduce their carbon footprint and would rather not use these items unnecessarily. Therefore, it's important to train your employees to ask your clients if they want plates or, better yet, avoid them altogether and save your restaurant some money.

You may want to sell reusable containers on your website or opt for biodegradable takeout boxes. Your customers will probably be attracted to your restaurant as a result.

PRACTICE MINDFULNESS WHEN IT COMES TO BAGGING ITEMS

It's understandable that a lot of restaurants put takeout boxes into plastic bags: They don't want it to spill all over the place because this could lead to dissatisfied customers. However, it's important to ensure that you're only using one bag and ask your customers if they even want it. Many people are becoming increasingly aware of these sorts of things. You may also want to opt for paper bags instead of plastic ones because they are both recyclable and reusable.

Reducing waste isn't easy, but with a little more mindfulness we can all do our part to make the world a better place. These practices also reduce your expenses and attract loyal customers, so implementing them is well worth your time.

Posted on

Food As Medicine – An Intro Guide

Fruit and Medicine Bottles

 

If there's one thing we learned in the past year, it's that our health is the most important thing we have. And as we know, one of the most important aspects to staying healthy is eating a healthy diet. Yes, food is important because it helps us stay healthy.

Eating a healthy well-balanced diet year-round is key in keeping your immune system healthy. Fresh fruits and vegetables give us many of the vitamins and minerals our body craves and prevents infections. While supplements can be useful, it's better to get what you need from fresh or frozen foods and not a capsule. Hospitals and senior care communities across the country know this, and that's why food is often viewed as medicine — food has the power to heal.

With cold and flu season in full swing, now is the time to do everything necessary to keep our bodies healthy and free from disease. Especially in the age of COVID-19, bodies need these six beneficial vitamins and ingredients:

Vitamin C

Your mother probably told you to drink your orange juice because it was packed with vitamin C, and you should always listen to mom. The simple reason it's so important is that it may increase white blood cell production, which helps to fight viruses, bacteria, and infections.

Foods packed with vitamin C include:

  • Grapefruit
  • Oranges
  • Tangerines
  • Red bell peppers
  • Broccoli

Not only do these foods help boost immunity, but they're also great for maintaining skin and eye health.

Vitamin E

Not always thought of as the most common vitamin when boosting immunity, but vitamin E is a powerhouse. Packed with antioxidants, which help protect cells against free radicals, vitamin E is important for eye, blood, and brain health.

Foods full of vitamin E include:

  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Seeds
  • Avocado
  • Spinach
  • Canola oil
  • Olive oil

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is super important in that it is anti-inflammatory and may help antibodies respond to toxins in the body. It's also fat-soluble, which means it's best to include healthy fats with it to aid in absorption.

Important for vision and cell division and reproduction, here are some common foods packed with vitamin A.

  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Butternut squash
  • Spinach
  • Dairy products
  • Cantaloupe
  • Dark leafy greens

Iron

Iron helps support immune health. It is a key nutrient in helping develop white blood cells and mobilizing their response. Iron is also crucial to blood health and reproductive health.

Need more iron in your diet? Try these foods.

  • Chicken
  • Red meat
  • Turkey
  • Oysters
  • Clams
  • Canned tuna

Zinc

In order to produce new immune system cells, zinc must be present. Unfortunately for us, zinc is a mineral our body doesn't produce, so we need to get it elsewhere. It's typically found in shellfish (oysters, crab, lobster), but eating yogurt or chickpeas will also do the trick.

The thing about zinc is that you need it for healthy immune function, but getting too much of it can have the opposite effect and impair immunity.

Garlic

Garlic isn't used to just season food or give you stinky breath, but it contains a myriad of compounds to support immune system health. It has been shown to reduce stress hormones and increase the production of T-cells. This superstar may also lower blood pressure and cholesterol according to recent clinical trials. Used throughout the ages to treat colds and infections, soldiers even used it in World War II to prevent gangrene.

The concept of "food as medicine" 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

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.