Cater to Seniors with Snacks, Meals at Their Convenience
The idea of needing instant gratification is typically associated with the younger generations of today, but senior living foodservice operators are seeing this expectation more and more among the newest wave of residents entering their facilities. Senior living diners no longer want to rely on eating only at set meal times or waiting for a member of the staff to sneak them a snack at an off-hour. They expect to have food available at their convenience which is an increasingly significant selling point when family members are researching where to house their loved ones. Variety and flexibility in dining options is important when catering to the needs of seniors who expect the comfort of eating when and where they desire. What can senior living foodservice operators do to satisfy the needs of seniors entering their establishments?
Add Unstructured Dining Areas for Residents’ Family and Friends
In senior living facilities that have set meal times, if residents have visitors, there’s typically nowhere convenient for them to sit. Staff may try to squeeze an extra chair between assigned resident seats or the visitor will unknowingly take an open seat before realizing it’s assigned to someone else. And that’s only accounting for situations with one visitor. If an entire family comes, what are they supposed to do? Where will they all sit? What will they all eat? Creating dining areas that aren’t limited to mandatory meal times allows residents to enjoy meals at their convenience whether they’re just hungry at an off-time of day or if they have visitors coming. Some ideas?
- Create small food stations around your facility so diners can have a quiet space to eat alone or with a visitor or two.
- Offer an entirely separate dining room for on-demand dining needs. Residents will be comfortable knowing they’ll always have a place to eat with guests and won’t stress over surprise or last-minute visitors.
- Fast-casual dining locations within senior loving facilities are an emerging trend. This not only adds one more dining option in your facility but also gets diners in and out quickly so there will always be room for resident diners and their visitors to sit down.
Make Snacks, Meals Available All Times of Day
Not everyone gets hungry at the same time every day and restricting residents to regimented meal times, day in and day out, drives down diner satisfaction. While possibly simpler to implement and manage, this type of blanketed foodservice model can’t keep residents happy because they each have different dietary wants and needs:
- Some individuals want access to a pantry stocked with small grab-and-go snacks like cereal, fruit, crackers, cookies, granola bars, pudding, and similar items that are quick to grab and easy to consume.
- Some prefer having a small café-like station where they can grab sandwiches, salads, small meals, and coffee or tea.
- Some like eating at set meal times each day but consistently crave off-the-menu items.
Offering a variety of food options as well as the opportunity to customize meals helps curb the monotony of a meal cycle that only rotates every few weeks. Keeping pantries stocked with a variety of snacks that are available to residents at their convenience satisfies the appetites of those who prefer not to follow a strict eating schedule. Depending on the level of assistance required, operators can even decide to make these snack stations directly accessible to residents. This cuts down the amount of staff needed to constantly monitor these items, freeing up valuable employee time to drive productivity in other areas of the business.
Setting up a coffee shop or café-style food spot gives seniors the freedom to grab something more substantial than a small snack but not necessarily as filling as a meal or entrée. Having options like this available to residents gives them the freedom to eat when they want and is a great option for facilities that offer residents a monthly budget.
Streamline Senior Living Foodservice
No matter what each senior living resident wants individually, providing a variety of food options while keeping meal times flexible drives diner satisfaction and improves the overall appeal of your establishment to potential residents and their loved ones. Senior living foodservice operations are not one-size-fits-all models so operators can reap big benefits from being responsive to diners’ needs by implementing a variety of dining options in their facilities to create appealing and memorable dining experiences. Need a simple solution to offer your senior living diners meals and snacks anytime? CaterTrax offers multiple solutions to cater to the needs of your senior living foodservice operation:
- Floor Stock Solution: Operators can better manage and track pantry stock levels and snack stations to reduce shortages and avoid overstocking. Supply levels are forecasted to meet customer demand and improve the overall senior living dining experience for residents.
- Take-Out Solution: Diners have a simple way to order what they want when they want. Orders can be delivered to resident rooms or picked up at chosen times, making take-out style options convenient for residents and foodservice operators.
- Catering Solution: This option is great for special events that require more than just a quick sandwich or snack. Menus are customizable, orders are easily tracked, and family members can easily order and pay in a centralized, online ordering system.
Cater to residents’ needs and streamline senior living foodservice management to improve customer satisfaction and drive business. Click the button below to book a demo to learn more about how CaterTrax Solutions can impact your foodservice operation.