4 ways to take healthcare foodservice to the next level

patient eating in hospital

From Smucker’s Foodservice.

In healthcare settings, the need for comfort is often high, so offering an elevated dining experience shouldn’t be an afterthought. With just a few small upgrades, healthcare operators can create an enjoyable experience for patients, visitors and staff.

Here are a few ideas for upgrading your dining operation.

Update menus with new flavors

Developing an interesting menu is key for creating an enjoyable dining experience in the healthcare division. In Technomic’s 2017 Consumer Food Trends Report, 31% of consumers say they would like if foodservice locations offered more ethnic foods and beverages. Mirror popular commercial offerings by adding international menu items like falafel wraps, Korean stir fry or Indian dishes that people would expect to see when dining out for leisure. By making dining in healthcare settings feel more like an experience, operators transform their facilities beyond being simply functional.

Include comfort-food favorites

Although international flavors are popular, it’s key to also offer familiar flavors, as people often look for comfort foods that they know they’ll love. Menu items such as chicken pot pie, spaghetti with meat sauce, macaroni and cheese, chicken strips and meatloaf are all good options for comfort-food seekers.

A well-stocked salad bar with in-season produce should be an area of focus as well, as 87% of consumers say they are more likely to buy items that are described as fresh and 65% say they are more likely to buy items described as seasonal, according to Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report.

Expand and enhance coffee bar choices

Consumers are committed to coffee—according to Technomic’s 2016 Beverage Consumer Trend Report, 65% of consumers reported ordering regular hot coffee at least once in the last month, 59% ordered cold/iced or blended coffee from scratch, 62% ordered a hot specialty coffee drink, and 42% ordered prepackaged cold or iced coffee. In other words, diners want their regular cup. And because they’re not necessarily ordering the same thing every time, it’s ideal to offer specialty flavored coffees, flavored syrups and different types of milk and creamers so that customers can customize their beverages.

Not sure which flavors to offer? Technomic’s MenuMonitor shows that in the past year, the most popular flavors of coffee have been vanilla, mocha, hazelnut, caramel and cinnamon.

Keep visitors and employees in mind

In the healthcare segment, it’s natural to put the focus of a food program onto patients. However, it’s important to keep visitors and employees in mind, too. Make sure to address potential dietary needs as well as adding craveable snacking options for those who want something to eat during less-busy dayparts—snacking has become increasingly common, with 83% of consumers in Technomic’s 2016 Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report saying that during a typical week, they normally have a snack between meals at least once a day. By making sure to cover all the bases for snackers, operators ensure that all diners feel well taken care of.

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