Here’s a look at some creative solutions from restaurants and noncommercial operations alike.
NC State University held a virtual plant-based recipe swap and potluck to engage students while classes are being held online. Participating students submitted their recipes ahead of time, and during the event, talked about their favorite vegan and vegetarian foods and described the dish they had prepared. “[Students] really enjoyed having the opportunity to meet new people and share tips, recipes and restaurant recommendations,” Director of Nutrition and Wellness Lauren Smith told FSD.
As salad bars across the country have been tabled due to safety concerns, operations are finding unique ways to transform those spaces. Earlier this fall, Erie County Medical Center repurposed its salad bar into a seasonal pop-up featuring local produce, snacks, apple cider and more.
Far-apart food court
Bayview senior-living community in Seattle recently transformed its dining room into a socially distant food court with three food stations and a grab-and-go marketplace. The food court, which includes a number of safety features such as floor decals and sanitizing stations, was designed with input from residents.
Strengthening local ties, Pacific Grove Unified School District teamed up with a local bakery towards the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The bakery promoted the district’s nutrition program while providing free breakfast to students and later donated $400 to the program from its tip jar.
Mobile hydration stations
At Windy Hill Village, a senior-living facility in Pennsylvania, foodservice staff make the rounds with refreshment carts in the mid-afternoon. These carts, from which employees serve lemonade and fruit punch, help to combat the isolation some residents have been feeling during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a similar move to fight feelings of loneliness, staff at Morrison Living operations sought to add a ray of sunshine to residents’ days by including cards with diners’ delivery orders and crafting signage for their door handles reminiscent of that in hotels.
Mental health Mondays
Early on in the pandemic, Lindy’s Landing and Slyce Coal Fired Pizza launched a Mental Health Mondays initiative through the restaurants’ online scheduling platform. Each week, Gabby Kruel, human resources director, provided mental health resources to employees, including hotline information and web-based yoga and meditation classes.
Taco Bell launched an e-gifting service that lets users send tacos to friends and family through the chain's app or website. The first 10,000 people to use the service also received free tacos themselves.