Along with human resources, dining

represents the biggest expense in a senior living operation. How to keep the cost down while keeping quality high? A number of different strategies come into play, from keeping property-level managers informed about true costs to keeping timely records. Te common theme? Be deliberate. Whether you’re pricing food, setting schedules, or composing menus, don’t just wing it. Te more methodical a dining manager can be, the easier it becomes to keep costs under control.

1. Share the numbers.

Of course, the dining director has to know the balance sheet by heart. But kitchen leaders at the property level also must understand the numbers, too, in order to be personally invested. “You have to make sure your director of dining services and your executive

chef understand your numbers,” says Harris Ader, VP of dining services at the Maxwell Group, whose nine proper-

ties feed 2,000 people daily. “Tey must understand your food costs, what goes into every meal. Tey must understand how much waste costs. It comes down to doing their monthly financial paper- work, which starts with doing it daily and weekly.”

2. Stay on top of vendors.

Finding the right price for a product just once isn’t nearly enough. “You have to maintain strong relationships with your vendors and review your business with them constantly. Every quarter, we sit down with our GPO [group purchasing organization] to talk about what we have spent, where we have areas

Farm to Table

There are a few hot trends senior housing food executives can afford to ignore: • The color yellow • Digital currency • Uber

Hot as they may be, these trends can’t hold a candle to “local foods” or

“farm to table.” The National Restaurant Association’s latest data shows locally sourced meats and seafood, along with locally grown produce, are the top two trends on restaurant menus this year. Consumers are looking for food that comes from close to home: It saves of long-haul trucking, and it just feels more “real.” Seniors and

the CO2

adult children are hip to the trend. The hospitality industry is already

on board. Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts says that by 2020, it aims to serve 75 percent more sustainably- sourced food at every hotel versus 2013. The chain’s Taiwan hotel purchases about 95 percent of all of its vegetables, poultry, and pork from local farms, and more than 70 percent of its seafood from local fisheries. Hil- ton Hotels & Resorts boasts its Herb N’ Kitchen, a dining concept that incor- porates fresh, local gourmet food into an upscale restaurant and convenient culinary market. Senior housing executives looking

to go this route may be cheered to know that such ingredients are becoming increasingly available. Since USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service began tracking farmers’ markets, the number of markets has grown from 1,755 a decade ago to 8,144 in 2013, the latest figures available. In June, Commonwealth Assisted Living, in partnership with Produce

Source Partners, began providing Virginia-grown produce at all 21 of its communities. Commonwealth now purchases 85 percent of its produce from 31 Virginia-based farms. For those looking to embrace farm to table, the farm is getting a whole


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