Operations

Contract companies step up with meal solutions for employees

Foodservice providers Sodexo and Cura ease COVID-19 stress with meals to go.
Sodexo distribution employees meals
Photograph courtesy of Sodexo

With social distancing and shelter-in-place mandates nationwide, buying groceries and preparing meals has become challenging for many Americans. To ease the stress, foodservice providers Sodexo and Cura are stepping in with take-home meals and prepared foods for their partner companies and healthcare facilities.

Sodexo and one of its customers, financial services company USAA, are now providing curbside pickup of meals and essential groceries to 35,000 employees. Each morning, participants place same-day daily orders for pickup; premade meals are offered at half-price, while the grocery items are sold at cost. The service is available to USAA employees who are working from home as well as those who are still coming into the office, where allowed.

An employee came up with the idea for the program, and it was quickly piloted at USAA’s San Antonio headquarters. Sodexo was able to implement the project in four days by modifying its pre-pandemic plan for take-home meals.

“Within the first few hours, we received more than 275 orders,” said Mark Spinelli, VP of operations for Sodexo at USAA. Curbside meal pickup is now rolling out to USAA’s regional campuses in Phoenix; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Plano, Texas; and Tampa, Fla.

At Allegheny Valley Hospital in Natrona Heights, Pa., Cura Hospitality, a member of Elior North America culinary management, is helping to provide prepared meals for healthcare workers. “Knowing when you go home after a stressful day, you might not have time to cook, the chef and I would prepare five to eight different meals and place them with the grab-and-go salads and sandwiches,” said dietitian Danielle Weber, Cura general manager at the hospital.

Quarts of homemade soup, such as Italian wedding and beef vegetable, take-and-bake pizzas and home-cooked entrees are among the choices. So far, the soup seems to be the best seller, said Weber.

“The dietary team wanted to provide meal options not only to our foodservice staff, but to other departments and employees,” Weber said.

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