October 20, 2017
When Will We Turn the Page on Senior Dining?
from Chef Christopher F. Donato
We often hear that bolder flavors are trending in the long-term care channel, but comfort food is still a staple of most senior living centers across the country. So when will the switch actually occur?
Will it happen overnight, or will it take dozens of years for items we commonly see across resorts, lodging and business dining centers today to find their way into the senior dining scene?
My guess is that we’ll still have many more years of comfort food, in all its iterations, throughout senior dining. Will fusion concepts give operators the flexibility to bridge between different generations of clients (G.I. generation, silent generation, and baby boomers) and provide safe experimentation to diners? One factor that may impede the switch is the higher costs of fresh ingredients and clean food options. Will senior living centers, like colleges & universities before them, see the value offering residents an elevated meal plan? Will food & beverage become a larger consideration point for those planning their golden years, or families looking into care options for loved ones?
One thing is clear to me—senior living centers are going to have to make investments to create dining facilities that will attract the next generations of seniors. They’re going to have to take a long, hard look at their food budget allocations. And the question remains— when will seniors start demanding more trendy and ethnic foods? Will we be saying “adiós” to baked chicken and meatloaf any time soon?