A Local, ReFreshing Initiative
Let’s state the obvious: hospital food does not earn a loyal following of raving fans. Commonly considered bland and poorly presented by a public that is very discerning about their food, it’s little surprise hospitals continue to earn a poor reputation for the dining experience. This is especially true when patients who feel vulnerable yearn for normalcy and control.
Let’s be realistic: the public institution that is Canadian healthcare allocates dollars primarily to front of house medical services while back of house support assumes secondary importance. Despite the volume of activity increasing, food service departments must get by on shrunken budgets while still meeting strict guidelines around menu development, nutritional/clinical protocols and, in some cases, labour agreements. As kitchen technology has improved in recent years to help enhance efficiencies, food safety and food temperatures, oddly it seems that this technology is also been blamed for poorer quality hospital food.
Let’s be frank: Technology is not the problem. Frequently used today is advanced retherm equipment which enables kitchens to prepare patient meals ahead of service, keeping them in a chilled environment until just before delivery. At this point, food to be served hot is heated while food intended to be kept cold is chilled. Both are on the same tray ensuring timely, efficient delivery. It’s expressly thanks to the retherm technology that kitchens are able to achieve those goals of efficiency, food safety and temperature. On the contrary, technology is an enabler, not a detriment to quality.
What truly deserves closer scrutiny revolves around the food used – it’s quality, freshness, as well as the manner it’s presented and served to patients. Poor quality food is not going to miraculously improve in a retherm system. Poor presentation gets the reception it deserves from patients. Lacklustre service by staff towards patients can contribute to a less than enthusiastic experience overall. The simple fact is, there are many variables at play with food service, and focusing on the technology is akin to the proverbial blaming of tools for poor quality workmanship.
The Move to ReFresh
That’s why we at Burlodge are leading the charge in helping clients reconsider how they can use retherm to generate positive results. Our ReFresh initiative is designed to infuse menus with fresh food items that speak to the quality and care facilities can offer patients every day. Promoting fresh food on patient trays resides at the heart of this movement, the hope being that it will boost patient satisfaction and improve staff engagement while still adhering to budgetary and labour restrictions.
The ReFresh program revolves around providing a nourishing dining experience for patients with menus highlighting familiar comfort foods, fresh fruit and vegetables, dishes that require simple preparation, all served with an elevated sense of care. Locally sourced ingredients give facilities the opportunity to engage with local farmers, to access the freshest seasonal products and demonstrate the facility’s willingness to strengthen the local economy by sourcing more ingredients from close to home.
The framework of the ReFresh initiative is meant for any facility – even kitchen-less facilities – to participate. The simple to follow recipes are based on assembly rather than cooking from scratch, which is intended to accommodate the broadest of staff skillsets as well as budgetary requirements. The Burlodge team is always prepared to collaborate with clients to propose menus that allow for more indulgent items that offer a wow factor to feature alongside simple, fresh and local fruit that can be thoughtfully sourced at inexpensive rates.
Recipe for Success
We’ve developed an extensive range of recipes, from no-bake desserts to homemade pizzas, all of which are included in our comprehensive recipe book. This goes into detail about:
a) The Burlodge equipment that’s required
b) The amount of labour involved with each recipe
c) Necessary staff skill level to prepare the recipe
d) Dietary restrictions
e) Advanced preparation requirements
f) Plate-ware requirements
g) Time of day it’s best served
h) Whether the recipe is a hot or cold item
With the ReFresh matrix, you will be able to filter and search the recipes based on the specific needs and requirements of your facility. Plus, Burlodge is always available to assist with sourcing local ingredients. We have the means to help guide clients through each step of the process, including the questions to ask distributors when making that shift to local fresh food procurement.
The ReFresh Strategy
Consider again that Burlodge has designed our ReFresh strategy around bringing out the best of your foodservice operation by managing all the key aspects of the program and answering the most important questions before they become an issue. With ReFresh we directly address:
Here’s a program that fits into shrinking budgets by advocating thoughtful purchasing, creative recipe and menu development, and dispelling the myth that eating local is too costly.
This is where real change can happen. Our ReFresh recipes are designed to work within your labour specifications and our certified Lean trainers can work with your operation to improve efficiencies and boost how you ReFresh your menu.
We’ve developed a step-by-step guide to help you engage with distributors by asking targeted questions that will ReFresh your operation simply.
Promoting Your Fresh Initiative
We encourage foodservice operations to remind patients that they are staying current with practices and embracing source-local principles. Highlight these initiatives with a symbol on meal tickets or find ways to promote within wards or throughout the hospital. Burlodge’s ReFresh team is prepared to help you develop the logos and materials to boost this type of promotional effort.
Form no-bake berry cheesecake on our cold plate/retherm system to a local sweet-pea quiche through our bulk service equipment, our ReFresh recipes have been thoroughly tested to perform best with our equipment.
Any facility can ReFresh! Just search our recipe matrix to determine which recipes will work with your specific Burlodge equipment, within your staff’s skill level and your labour capacity. Interested in tackling more complex recipes? Let us know and we can provide equipment solutions that will expand the capacity of your kitchen-less set-up.
Unsure if staff will buy into this change? Here’s an opportunity to involve them with product tasting, recipe development and feedback. Encourage them to partake in the changes and see how much more pride they’ll take in delivering patient satisfaction.
Gauging Success Among Patients
Burlodge will help you design a survey and data collection strategy that will measure the impact of your initiative upon patients. Discover how important local fresh food is to patients as well as how recipes, portion sizes and plating techniques are working.
Add it all up and you’ve got so many ways to ReFresh and improve your foodservice operation with Burlodge. Take the opportunity to speak with us on how best to get started and you’ll soon discover that adopting these practices and procedures will make a far more appetizing impact on patients, staff and management alike.