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The state of healthcare foodservice: Keeping up with menu trends

Plant-based and globally inspired items are gaining steam, but not everywhere.
illustration by Nico Heins

Like in other noncommercial segments, plant-based and global dishes have been trending on healthcare menus.

Sixteen percent of respondents to an FSD survey say that plant-based is the biggest trend in healthcare dining right now. At Cedarbrook Senior Living in Plymouth, Mich., Executive Chef Steven Stillvagyi says that the team has been working with more global cuisines and plant-forward dishes, which have been well received by guests.

The same is true at Hannibal Regional Hospital in Hannibal, Mo., where the nutrition team has been diversifying its menu options due to diner demand.

“We are getting more diverse physicians and other staff, requesting our menus to become more diverse, including more plant-based,” says Director of Clinical Nutrition Services Nancy Hays.

Depending on where they’re located, however, some operators are seeing different trends. 

“Plant-based is big, but not in Wyoming,” says Toni Skaggs, hospitality manager at Memorial Hospital of Converse County in Douglas, Wyo.

Similarly, at Crown Park in Cortland, N.Y., Director of Food and Nutrition Services Karen Ballog says that comfort foods are the meal trend that is popular with diners. “My residents want the classics,” she says.

What’s resonating in the dining room

Even with procurement and labor challenges, healthcare chefs are still working to provide new menu options. Here are several new dishes that operators have recently added to the menu and were well received.

Tortellini vegetable soup

Shawn Young
Manager of Nutritional Services
Mercy Carthage
Carthage, Mo.

Branzino

Steve Smith
Corporate Chef
NHC Healthcare
Farragut, Tenn.

Meatless meatballs and meatless crumble

Alexa Salgado
Food Service Director
Dry Harbor Nursing Home
Middle Village, N.Y.

Pork osso buco

Nancy Oram
Certified Dietary Manager
Harrogate Life Care Services
Lakewood, N.J.

Grilled tuna melt wrap

Dawn Cascio
Food Service Director
The Valley Hospital
Ridgewood, N.J.

Fresh apple crisp. Served warm with vanilla ice cream.

Arlene Vaillancourt
Director of Dining Services
Notre Dame Health Care Center
Worcester, Mass.

Return to the full 2022 State of Healthcare Foodservice report.

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