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The Metamorphosis of Food Service & Dining

The Senior Living industry continues to shift and grow; taking inspiration from industries including healthcare, hospitality and commercial. A consistent theme is the metamorphosis of food service and I expect it to remain a topic of interest. Here are five strong trends in senior living dining:

  1. Dining as an Experience – It starts with the terminology. We now have restaurants, bistros, bars and cafes, not dining rooms. The interior design reflects current trends in hospitality and provides vibrant experiences to connect. Outdoor dining, places for live music, and open-concept kitchens engage residents in fresh ways.
  2. Expectation of Variety – Gone is the old model of one main dining room with set meal times. Residents expect a variety in when and what to eat. Successful communities are providing multiple venues and plenty of variety in food options. Lounges and grab-n-go are available to grab a quick bite outside of typical meal hours. A switch to a la carte pricing gives the resident control over their daily dining.
  3. Open to Community – Life Plan Communities are focusing on being an integral part of the surrounding community. Welcoming friends, family and others to join them in dining will enhance residents’ lives. Multi-generational interaction and relationships strengthen health and well-being.
  4. Farm-to-Table – Today’s residents and their adult children are better educated and more concerned about where their food is sourced. As our knowledge has grown about the correlation between food selection and long-term health, it has become more important to provide fresh, locally-sourced food.
  5. Resident Involvement – In an effort to focus on a purpose-filled life, more communities are involving residents in the dining experience. Many residents cooked for decades prior to moving into senior living and this is a natural fit to continue their knowledge and expertise. From collaborating on menu selection and food preparation to chef gardens that are maintained by residents, we see resident engagement happening on many levels.