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
to-go coffee

We have a fixed kiosk that not only sells coffee, but also protein smoothies, grab-and-go reimbursable meals and other a la carte items. We used updated equipment like what is used in Starbucks and incorporated school colors. It is a very popular addition to one of our high schools, and we are planning on expanding it to two additional high schools.

Menu Development
sam kass talking menu directions

Sam Kass, former White House senior policy advisor for nutrition policy and executive director of the Let’s Move campaign, spoke at FSD’s MenuDirections conference in February.

Q: What’s one of the biggest food-related problems facing our country?

A: Obesity is the No. 1 threat to national security—20% of what we’re spending on healthcare is due to obesity. This isn’t a policy problem. The root of our challenge is culture, and what we value in our food. The healthy choice needs to be the easy choice.

Q: What are some important steps to modeling healthy eating and creating...
Menu Development
three sisters salad

“Everyone is doing Thai in college dining,” says Patrick McElroy, campus executive chef for Bon Appetit at Washington University in St. Louis. So he set out to “push the envelope” on ethnic cuisine and offer Native American dishes—a move that had support from the American Indian Student Association. But McElroy didn’t realize the challenge ahead. “I wanted to maintain the integrity and tradition of the food, but there were very few recipes,” he says. “I had to do a lot of research.” To develop the menu, he enlisted the help of chef Nephi Craig, founder of the Native American Culinary...

Managing Your Business
dancing fruit happy

When editor Jill Failla and I sat down to discuss ideas for this month’s cover story, data from FoodService Director’s sister company Technomic was the spark that lit the flame of conversation. She told me the most recent Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report had found that consumers are more willing to order and pay more for items they think are both healthy and tasteful. My questions: OK, what does that look like in practice? How does it factor into operators’ decision-making processes? And what the heck do we call that phenomenon?

After tossing around some ideas, we had it: the...

FSD Resources