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
vote buttons pins

On every other Thursday of our four-week cycle menu, we allow K-8 students to pick the entree choices. The media center specialist for each of the participating schools sets up the list of entree items on a computer for voting, and the winning entrees are given to cafeteria managers two weeks before the upcoming month to put into production. Students really like this, as it promotes ownership of the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chalkboard

We highlight our North Carolina products on a large chalkboard in our dining halls, and also list any produce we bring in from our own agroecology farm. It helps tell our story—positive and local.

Ideas and Innovation
raised garden beds

We have raised garden beds that residents can reserve and use to grow their own plants. Whenever a resident brings me fresh produce from their own garden, I try and incorporate it into a dish. If I do end up using it, I will display the resident’s name and what the produce was next to the dish on the menu.

Ideas and Innovation
chartwells teaching kids

Curriculum for the mobile teaching kitchen centers around a single kid-friendly recipe, using ingredients that can provide talking points for nutrition, sustainability and food origins. “The recipe is the lesson,” Saidel says. “Every ingredient is an opportunity to talk.”

Earlier this year, Saidel, Perkins and Harvey did a student demo featuring roasted chicken and white bean tacos with greens and citrus salsa. “We can say, ‘Why are we using chicken instead of beef? Why are there some beans in here?’ You can talk about plant proteins and the sustainability and health message around...

FSD Resources