The impact of technology on foodservice

Operators say technology has made their work lives easier.

From ordering and inventory to information access and storage, technology is helping foodservice departments run more efficiently, but not without some growing pains and a commitment to learning.

Ninety-two percent of school operators strongly agree that technology has had a positive impact on their foodservice departments, and 78% of schools strongly agree that technology has even made employees’ jobs easier.

Employees now “have tools that increase their efficiencies, whether it’s reporting or tools within the kitchen that are technology advanced so they can produce more,” explains Adam Merlino, director of nutrition services at Cañon City Schools, in Colorado. And since some production technologies, such as smallware equipment, help to reduce an employee’s need to stand in one spot for a long period of time or do repetitive motions, Merlino finds that “oftentimes, some of this technology helps [to increase] their physical longevity.” 

Use of technology comes with a learning curve but is worth the effort, Merlino explains. To decrease the anxieties that come with change, “you have to do a combination of training—first you have to learn it yourself so your employees can see an example of how it can be learned to overcome that obstacle of change,” he shares. 

For Patti Klos, director of dining and business services at Tufts University, in Medford, Mass., and her staff, “technology gives us the access to information in a way that was more cumbersome before.” 

But the use of technology shines a light on employee ability and confidence. It “begins to have some job requirements that weren’t there before … forcing us to develop for areas we hadn’t thought about before but are beneficial,” Klos explains. Klos uses a “buddy approach” so that less comfortable or confident employees can work with a co-worker in an appropriate and respectful way to complete tasks accurately. 

When it comes to keeping up with emerging technology, however, 44% of respondents strongly agree it is difficult to do. Several issues factor into staying on top of developments in technology, including customer and corporate influence, time, budgets, infrastructure, rate of change and, for some, age. Sixty percent of respondents older than 60 strongly agree that it is difficult to keep up with emerging technology. 

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
staff pack

To keep staff motivated, we locked them in a room together. As part of a midsemester training session, we formed work groups and sent them to a local Escape Room to see which team could play the game together most effectively and escape first. Not only was this training a great team-building experience, but it supported a local new business and gave our staff a memorable experience.

Ideas and Innovation
star employee

Senior leadership meets twice a year to do organizational talent planning for every position from the top down. We talk about who are the potential high-performers, and go through how they can grow. People are your differentiator—you need to take care of your assets, and your assets are your human resources.

Industry News & Opinion

Students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor will be served student-grown produce from the campus farm at dining halls this fall, M Live reports.

The dining team received its first batch of produce from UM’s on-campus farm in June, after students received the proper USDA certification to grow, harvest and deliver food to campus dining halls. In order to figure out what produce is needed, students communicate with the dining department weekly, and Michigan Dining purchases items accordingly.

"The students are involved from seed to plate," Executive Chef Frank Turchan...

Sponsored Content
college students eating

From Ovention.

Today’s colleges and universities know they should offer more than a large selection of breakfast cereals in the morning and chicken tenders at lunch to appeal to students. When it comes to what’s trending on campuses, here’s a look at what directors can tune into to boost engagement.

1. Expanded dining hours

Late-night options have long been a popular fixture on college campuses, but if it’s too late, students often choose to venture to off-campus retailers to satisfy their cravings. According to Technomic’s 2017 College & University Consumer Trend...

FSD Resources