When it comes to senior living, gone are the days of buffet-style dining and flavorless foods. Chefs and operators are moving to more natural ingredients, on-trend recipes and various service formats to meet the needs of diners in senior living communities.
The majority of Americans older than 65 receive some type of long-term care. This important and growing sector of the population is inspiring foodservice professionals to rethink their dining programs. While buffet-style service was once the norm, today, many senior living communities feature formal dining rooms, home-style eateries and even branded restaurants on site.
Table service is not only a more appropriate option for many senior citizens with limited mobility, but it also creates a more sociable experience. North Shore Place, an assisted living facility in Chicago, gives residents options with three distinct dining venues: a formal dining room, a grill-style bistro and a casual café.
Trends affect this segment of foodservice, like all segments. More and more consumers are seeking healthy options—and those healthy options shouldn’t be bland because of dietary restrictions. In the past, dining options in senior living have been underseasoned and overcooked. Today, many senior living facilities are offering fresh, chef-made fare that rivals dishes found in country clubs and top restaurants across the country.
Fresh fruits and vegetables, low-sodium dishes with amped-up flavor, and gluten-free and vegetarian options are all table stakes. St. Paul’s Towers, a retirement community in Oakland, California, hosts champagne brunches with dishes such as smoked salmon, tuna poke, arugula salad and more.
Chefs are also incorporating more ethnic flavors into their menus, bringing global tastes to residents who are no longer able to travel. Both healthy and versatile, turkey is an ideal protein for senior living menus. Dishes such as Curried Turkey with Roasted Vegetables and Tuscan Roast Turkey can meet residents’ need for better-for-you dishes with adventurous, standout flavor.
Shifts in senior living foodservice are helping to improve resident satisfaction with options that comply with their health needs as well as their taste preferences, all while providing opportunities for socialization and enjoyment.
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