The future of health care foodservice

A president-elect of the Association for Healthcare Foodservice plans to push the segment forward.

Published in FSD Update

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Dave Reeves, the director of hospitality services at Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare in Elmhurst, Ill., started in health care foodservice in 1992 and has been with the Association for Healthcare Foodservice since its inception. In the 2017 to 2018 term, Reeves will be president of the organization. Even though he won’t be sworn in for some time, Reeves is already looking at how to modernize the association to address the needs of health care FSDs.

“This year has been a defining term, thanks to the current AHF leadership, that will determine the next few years of the organization,” Reeves says. The future of the association, according to Reeves, lies in recruiting, retaining and engaging members. “We are an older group of foodservice directors, and we’ve got to look to the future,” he says. “And I think that’s one of the most critical things. Who is going to fill our role in the future?”

In part, Reeves plans to grow membership by modernizing the association’s resources and focusing on education. “We have some really cool ideas about how to facilitate learning for the future,” he says. “How we deliver education for the future is something I’d really like to look at—whether it’s more webinars or developing new tools or electronic resources.”

Reeves hopes to couple electronic resources with a broader network of peer-to-peer advice. He hopes to curate an internal consulting group for members to share experiences. “It would be like, ‘I’m going through a renovation, so you can really tap into me. I can go out, and say this is what I’ve done for a renovation at my facility; this is what I’d recommend,’” he says.

While the segment’s reimbursement rates continue to dive year to year, Reeves hopes to usher growth of retail operations. Operators can lower costs or grow their revenue, he says, and many are looking at their retail operations as profit centers to offset climbing costs and dwindling budgets.

As incoming generations stir up the segment, Reeves increasingly sees a need to focus on hospitality. “There’s always going to be the need for the clinical folks, but our customers are demanding so much more service now as the baby boomers have moved in to be the primary users of healthcare,” he says. “They are savvy diners, they are demanding customers—as they should be—and we need to be competitive. And the way to be competitive is to have that hospitality focus.”

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