Insights Driving Today’s Menus
A new report from Datassential proves that the challenge for healthcare and senior living foodservice directors is more about serving up tasty menus than healthy ones. Yes, insights from the report indicate segments that are moving toward restaurant quality and innovative methods for service. Yet, the report also notes that food costs and the staff’s culinary skills are top considerations.
Among senior living and long-term care facilities the priority is to make residents feel valued, offering tasty food and a social experience rather than a singular focus on healthful food, according to the report.
Hospitals have a greater challenge, feeding patients, visitors, and employees. With 76% of all patients in healthcare facilities having all of their meals provided by the facility, better food plays a role in the healthcare brand image. That means that better taste and an opportunity to customize one’s own meal are key.
Colorado’s Aspen Valley Hospital achieved one of the highest patient food satisfaction scores with a menu that is updated regularly and highlights items like quinoa patties with mango salsa on “Meatless Mondays.” Moffitt Café UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco showcases French toast made with on-trend sprouted whole wheat bread.
For patients or residents, 89% now have a choice in what they eat at every meal, and 81% have tried a new food at a healthcare facility. The report notes that hot coffee and hot chocolate are perennial favorites and that iced tea and milkshakes are requests for more frequent offerings.
Because sauces and condiments play a significant role in enhancing flavor, finding the right prepared sauces can add craveable flavors while reducing the impact on the culinary staff to maintain consistency. Packaging also plays a role in flavor delivery. From portion control packets of ketchup or dipping cups of BBQ sauce, marinara sauce, or salsa to condiment dispensers in the employee lunchroom, packaging can be a stopgap to the pressures of serving tasty at every meal.
Because older patients and residents need flavor to consume a wholesome diet, condiments and sauces can also be important for enticing them to eat.
“We’ve added more upscale menu items like shrimp scampi, salmon with a red pepper pesto, couscous, quinoa, roasted vegetables, and high protein drinks,” says one survey respondent in the report. It’s a simple truth that there is value in “tasty.”