Five Questions to Evaluate Your Dining Program

Published on : 6/6/22
  • As a result of consumers’ changing preferences and tastes, the senior living industry is evolving. New best practices are emerging that are based on shifting dynamics in public health, sustainability, advancements in technology, and resident expectations. While these changes may present challenges for changing longstanding procedures, they also represent opportunities to evaluate resident satisfaction with services and experiences. Dining is a key service that residents experience, so assessing the dining program is essential to gauge resident satisfaction and make better decisions. The following five questions facilitate evaluating dining programs and can lead to improved dining experiences.

    Is the dining program running optimally and consistently meeting budget?

    Developing and refining systems is essential to enhance the quality of any dining program and containing costs. Many dining programs are wasting food, time, and labor hours by following outdated procedures. This can be avoided by using up-to-date resources and tracking residents’ menu preferences.

    Does the dining team have tools to raise the bar and identify opportunities for continuous improvement?

    While every business must recruit, onboard, and train workers, some businesses are better at it than others. To avoid constant turnover, senior living providers must invest time and energy in creating careers, not just jobs. Positions that have defined career paths, good wages, benefits, and training development are more likely to attract and retain workers than those that do not have these elements. This tactic can convert one- to two-year employees into four- to five-year employees.

    Are menus and food spending optimized for resident satisfaction and financial benefit?

    In senior living communities, it is important to adapt menu offerings for levels of care. Ensuring that menus are optimized for each level of care minimizes unnecessary spending. Overspending can also be thwarted with up-to-date systems and tracking. Costs for food sourcing, supply chain management, and other procurement issues can be minimized by working with the right partner. Sodexo Seniors has a vast procurement network that can help in this regard.

    Is meeting the demand for local sourcing and sustainability objectives a challenge?

    Today, many consumers—regardless of age—are mindful of how everything affects the environment. Maintaining a robust dining service that adheres to environmental and sustainability standards should therefore be top of mind for all senior living providers. Sodexo is a global company that sources much of its food and other supplies locally.

    Is the resident experience structured around a seamless, holistic journey across operations?

    While the most dire effects of the pandemic are seemingly over, some problems remain: supply chain issues, staffing shortages, inflation, etc. Resolving these issues requires communication. Communication among leadership, staff, suppliers, and others involved in the process of providing services helps maintain seamless successful operations and experiences for community residents.

    These questions allow communities to assess where their operations are and determine where they want them to be. With honest answers and planning, senior living community providers can elevate the services they provide and the experiences residents have. In addition, clear communication and updates to career development will facilitate improved worker retention and satisfaction. All of these will lead to stronger services and better experiences for residents and workers.


    To learn more, download the e-book “How to Evaluate Your Senior Living Dining ROI: 5 Key Questions to Ask,” which is a collaboration between Sodexo Seniors and Senior Housing News.