Facilities Innovate with Purchasing, Plates

Long-term care facilities in Pennsylvania and Connecticut are controlling costs in different ways: one by standardizing purchases and another using bright-colored plates to increase patient/resident consumption and reduce food waste.



Diakon, a Lutheran social services ministry with a network of 18 senior living facilities based in Topton, PA, is seeking a 10% reduction in f/s costs by standardizing purchasing and staffing functions—which will be carried out by its new foodservice contractor, Cura Hospitality.



Diakon's contract with Cura runs for five years, and covers production and service of some 70,000-plus meals weekly among 40 dining rooms. The network includes 16 assisted- and skilled-living facilities plus two continuing care facilities in Pennsylvania and Maryland.



Cura gets to work: Cura will leverage Diakon's purchasing volume for better pricing with a new accounting system. Called CuraWorks, the system specifies product for optimal use, including those products Cura purchases direct from manufacturers.



An eight-person menu development team created a core menu for Diakon incorporating regional favorites. Team members consist of Cura culinary staff and unit operators.



The staff scheduling model creates workflows for every position, and states exactly what each employee does while on the job. "We were very non-standardized" prior to the Cura contract, says Mark Pile, ceo of Diakon.



"We wanted to capture savings yet enhance quality. By standardizing staffing and leveraging food buying, the savings are in the millions."



Wasting away: Waste has decreased at the Alzheimer's Resource Center in Plattsville, CT, since fsd Peter Riccio began serving food on brightly colored plates.



"These residents lead a very structured existence so serving food on different colored plates increases their sensory involvement," he says. "Some of them don't even remember to eat and some don't remember to stop."



Colorful dining: "Research has shown that the ability to distinguish light colors decreases with age, so a white plate on a white tablecloth was hard for residents to see. These plates are brighter, cheerier and less mundane and we've even noticed some weight gain."



Riccio is using Fiesta china in a variety of colors, except white and black "because black is depressing and not appropriate. And we try not to lose food in the color of the plate; scrambled eggs would disappear on a yellow plate so we garnish well."

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
trail mix

We’ve added fueling stations in our units for our workers who didn’t have time to eat or just need a snack. We have areas set up with trail mix, crackers, cookies and water. It helps us avoid people feeling or getting ill, especially when we get closer to exam periods and student workers are studying and not taking the time to eat.

Ideas and Innovation
reusable coffee cup thermos

We were inspired by a book titled “Influence” to start a sustainable cup program called My Cup. All 15,000 new students receive a reusable cup with their name on it, which they can use at the dining halls. Personalizing helps them invest in the program and actually use it.

Menu Development
quinoa bowl

In a time of growing health consciousness, it might not be enough anymore for food to be merely filling. According to Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report , diners are looking for food with a function, such as those with high protein content, immunity-boosting properties, antioxidants, probiotics and more. The data suggests 63% of consumers see these foods as healthier than those without any specific nutritional function—and would be more likely to buy them.

But are those stated preferences translating on an operational level? There, the answer is less clear. Baby...

Ideas and Innovation
phone bed call sick

We make people call and directly talk to their boss or supervisor if they are reporting an absence for a shift. While it is more cumbersome, it is a conscious decision. We have adapted and implemented electronic methods to obtain efficiencies in just about every other functional area, except for electronic absence reporting systems. The direct supervisor can put more pressure on an employee to show up—especially those with some form of the “Super Bowl plague”—than any electronic system can.

FSD Resources