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Unpacking the Impact of Meal Cost in a Healthcare Facility

The cost breakdown of meal production in a healthcare facility can vary based on several factors, including the size of the facility, the number of meals served, dietary requirements, labor cost and staffing needs and and overall regional cost differences.  One thing that has not changed is the need to feed.  Regardless of factors, facilities need to be able to feed their residents and patients and do so in a safe manner than aligns with regulatory requirements.  Understanding the impact of cost is complicated so lets take a closer look at what is involved.

Food Costs:  The cost of purchasing raw food items, including fruits, vegetables, meats, grains, and dairy products.  Raw food cost can add up and there is often some waste involved due to the natural expiration of these foods.  Menu planning, and stocking are essential to ensuring there is minimal waste involved in meal service.  In addition to raw food cost we also need to consider specialty food costs such as low sugar items for diabetics, modified consistency products for the dysphagia population and gluten free items for those with intolerances and celiac disease.  These items are necessary to help support these patient/ resident populations but can often be a huge hit to the kitchen budget.  Adding the regulatory requirements of specialty diets and the financial impact of serving these populations continues to grow. 

Staffing and Labor Cost: It takes a lot to run a kitchen in a healthcare facility.  Staffing needs go beyond the chef and cooks who are essential to prepare the foods but we must also consider the needs of those who play an essential but supportive role in meal service.  Salaries for kitchen staff involved in meal preparation include dietary staff and personnel, Environmental Services to keep the kitchen and dining areas clean are also an essential part of the equation.  Ensuring safety and accuracy of dietary interventions is also an additional cost often equated to the food and nutrition budget.  Registered dietitians(RD), Registered diet technicians(DTR) play a very important role in ensuring patients nutritional needs are being met through menus and diet prescriptions.  

Kitchen Equipment and Maintenance: Costs related to the purchase, maintenance, and energy consumption of cooking and food storage equipment plays a very large role in food service expenses. Expenses for water, gas, electricity, and other utilities required for meal preparation are also impactful to the budget.

The list of expenses continues to grow and budgets continue to shrink.  Providing patients with options that are nutritious, delicious and cost effective is an ideal solution to this challenge.  One solution for the dysphagia population is Cafe Puree® and Cafe Minced®.  These products are single serve, dimensionally shaped purees and minced and moist items to serve the dysphagia population.  Because these are individually packed, they offer a zero waste option for the kitchen and allow for customized menu option to serve secondary diet needs as well as patient preferences.  These items are either defrost and serve or a simple eat and serve so the labor and equipment required for preparation is minimal.  These products also align with IDDSI level 4 puree and IDDSI level 5 minced and moist critical testing, so the additional mess of figuring out puree consistencies and particle size is eliminated.  

Cafe Puree and Cafe Minced streamline service for the dysphagia population offering products that align with critical testing points, are easy to prepare, reduce labor requirements and allow for patient and resident preferences to be adhered to.


Learn more about our dysphagia line HERE


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