Restaurants and Hospitals were among the major foodservice providers who changed their MOs and SOPs virtually overnight. This impacted food safety practices for them, their employees, clients and customers, and things may never be the same.
•Identify the huge operational shifts created for essential foodservice operators who must continue to operate during a pandemic and for the restaurants trying their best to do so
•Identify the food safety challenges created by this public health crisis and the strategies to address them.
•Summarize the lessons learned and forecasting future ones that will alter every step of the feeding process from supplier to operator to server to customer.
Presenter: Mary Angela Miller MS RDN, LD, President, KeepSafe Food, LLC
Moderated by: Marsha Diamond, MA, RDN, President, Diamond Approach
Sponsored by AHF-NJ, Alluserv and Lakeside Foodservice.
PDF of Presentation
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.
Hospitals in the United States see as many as 36.4 million admissions every year. And for patients and families who spend more than a just few hours in a hospital, chances are they will end up eating at least one meal courtesy of a hospital foodservice operator. In fact, those foodservice operations generate a significant amount of income for a hospital.
Umami Saves The Taste (Buds): Elevating Food Flavor
Imagine you’re out to eat, about to be served. You know the food is ready when you smell the aroma from a few feet away. When it arrives to the table, your mouth begins to water at the sight of the dish you’ve been looking forward to. You take a bite, but it tastes bland. This can be rather disappointing if you have been anticipating a delicious meal. This is your senses at work. We use senses such as sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste to make judgments about the food we eat. We eat with our eyes first, smell second and taste last. Taste is the most influential in determining our enjoyment of a food. You might be familiar with the basic tastes like sweet, sour, salty and bitter, but we have an additional taste, also known as Umami.
Umami is a savory taste imparted by glutamate, found in dishes like meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products. The goal of Umami is to bring out the natural flavors in food and ultimately, enhance the flavoring of the food. Increasing the use of Umami in dishes could:
- Introduce new ingredients to food - The primary role of Umami is to make food more flavorful, but it also changes how our dishes are prepared. Umami can be used on its own or in conjunction with other flavors and foods, which opens up new ideas on traditional recipes.
- Increase food acceptability and consumption - When a food tastes good, we normally want to eat more of it. This is especially important when trying to increase intake of foods like fruits and vegetables. Umami can influence the perceptions of these foods in dishes and increase their overall acceptance on the plate.
- Reduce food waste - On the contrary, we naturally leave more food on the plate when we don’t like it. This can add to the pile of food wasted on a daily basis. Umami has the potential to reduce food waste by increasing the desirability of the dish.
- Enhance overall customer experience - One of the most common objectives of a foodservice operation is to give the customer the best experience possible. If the food tastes good, there is higher customer satisfaction. This increases the chances might even recommend and rave about the food!
Try a simple taste test with your team. Add Umami to a portion of soup and one without. We have experienced this test and the difference was significant as adding Umami gave the broth a savory feel, without interfering with the texture or the presentation of it. Umami’s usage can have a huge impact on how your patients and customers enjoy their food. You may be surprised on the impact on the enjoyment of future dining experiences too, especially in those who have compromised or diminished taste buds due to illnesses or aging. Umami can give these populations better eating and tasting experiences thus, better consumption and nutrition.
“Sleep is for the weak” is a phrase commonly used to influence people to stay awake for longer hours, but have we considered the toll that a lack of sleep can take on health? At this year’s food nutrition conference and expo, there was session titled, Best of the Rest, that proposed sleep being a piece of the health puzzle with food choices and exercise too, presented by Dr. Michael Grandner.
Sleep is a biological process that starts with our sleep drive and our biological clock. In this process, our body recovers and repairs from the day. So, what are the consequences of a lack of sleep?
Nutritionally, a lack of sleep can impair the immune system, putting us at a higher risk of getting sick. Also, those who aren’t getting enough sleep tend to gain weight and have higher susceptibility to chronic health conditions like obesity and hypertension. Not only are there health consequences (higher disability and insurance costs), but exhausted employees can have just as much of a negative impact on the workplace environment (productivity levels, falls, mistakes)
A lack of sleep increases our sleep drive, meaning, we feel more tired as we go about our day. Our brain is constantly sending signals to the body that we need rest. This is why we have a harder time concentrating when we are tired. Inadequate sleep makes it difficult to make complex decisions, resulting in a lack of effective communication amongst team members. This can hinder productivity levels and set the tone of their environment daily. Currently, over 30% of people don’t get good sleep.
Steps that can be taken to ensure you and your team members get your z’s?
- Your work environments-consider the design of Zen gardens and rest venues. Napping boosts alertness and accuracy. Nappers are more alert, respond faster and better, and make fewer mistakes. Even a 20-minute nap was found to improve alertness and performance among shift workers.
- Replicate these type of design for employees -Recharge rooms, nap pods.
- Inservice training included with orientations, etc. to educate what can tips to get a better-quality sleep.
- picking an optimal time and amount of sleep. The recommended amount of sleep is 7-9 hours for adults.
- Minimize any light exposure during sleep can also disturb the sleep cycle.
- Avoid smart devices or tv screens before going to sleep
- Minimize or avoid smoking and alcohol several hours before your bedtime
Keep in mind that these recommendations go hand in hand with a healthy lifestyle, food options and exercise. Promoting lifestyle practices in the workplace can have plenty of benefits including: reduced health care costs, increased concentration for effective decision making and overall, higher workplace productivity.
The “food-as-medicine” movement has been around for decades, but it’s making inroads as physicians and medical institutions make food a formal part of treatment, rather than relying solely on medications. By prescribing nutritional changes or launching educational programs, they’re trying to prevent, limit or even reverse disease by changing what patients eat. Join us as Jim McGrody, Director of Culinary Services, UNC Rex Healthcare Raleigh, NC, shares his expertise and stories about the power of serving nutritious, appealing food in hospitals. At this important juncture, there are opportunities to set goals, build on successes, and learn from his experience. We continue our discussion with Jim from our last webinar on May 25th.
Recording of Webinar
In this webinar, Alluserv presents two guest speakers who explain how the “food as medicine” movement is being adopted within healthcare facilities. Topics include: new relevant terminology, developing action plans, and determining who leads, executes and adopts these plans. Speakers include Aatul Jain, Sr. Executive Chef at St. Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ; Dr. Veronica McLymont, Director of Food and Nutrition Services at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY.
Recording of Webinar
The culinary world is forever changing, as new technology and scientific evidence shapes how people perceive food, health and the overall dining experience. It seems that people are trying to get back to basics - attempting to form better relationships with their food and understanding where it comes from. We are starting to become more aware of what we’re eating and what is going on our plates. In 2018, we can expect to see an increase in seasonal cooking and more plant-based diets. As our knowledge of certain foods and their health benefits increases, we are now becoming alert to things like gut health and how fermented foods can help with our digestion and overall health.
This year, we can expect to see the comeback of quite a few “old-age” themes with food and the actual dining experience. There has already been an increase of zero waste bulk-buy stores as people are becoming more aware of the amount of waste they produce, and that trend does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. These stores also tend to sell organic and sustainable foods and honestly make the grocery shopping fun! Another comeback we can expect to see is the experience of dining as a social event, not just sitting and eating food like it’s a chore. Some restaurants have already started introducing ‘communal dining’, where people can sit down with friends, family or complete strangers which can enhance your dining experience...well, depending on who is sitting at the table with you.
However, sustainability is an issue that food manufacturers, scientists and food engineers need to overcome due to the growing population and the depleted resources that we will face in the not-so-distant future. Finding sustainable methods of food production is going to be the main goal over the next few years, kicking off in 2018. Waste production is going to be a major focus this year, as breakthroughs in nano-packaging and 3D printing will change the way foods are not only packaged, but also cooked and stored. Nano-packaging has already shown to give foods a much longer shelf life, without the use of preservatives. As people become more conscious of what food they are consuming, information platforms will become readily available to help educate people on waste production all the way to the chemical compositions of foods.
Overall, the entire world of food and hospitality is going to change in 2018. From the change in diets, what foods are available and how we consume them to how foods are grown, produced and packaged. It’s going to be a long year ahead, but remember:
One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.- Virginia Woolf