Lift Spirits with Healthcare and Senior Living Holiday Dining


This year calls for rethinking how to help patients, residents and staff celebrate.

The recent spike in COVID-19 cases has shut down a lot of events for hospitals and long-term care foodservice. Parties are paused. Catering is on hold. But there are still ways to elevate the dining experience during the holidays, and using food to show appreciation and lift spirits can also generate revenue.

Here are five ways healthcare and senior living food and nutrition services departments can rethink how patients, residents and staff members can celebrate this year.

1. Onsite patient/resident meals

Add special touches to recipes and regular meal service.

  • Use garnishes.
  • Upgrade beverages and/or desserts.
  • Add an appetizer. 
  • Provide festive placemat/tray covers, napkins.
  • Deliver meals with holiday cards/messages.
  • In senior living, create a mobile cart schedule with holiday-themed snacks/beverages.

2. Reimagine catering

With limited or no group activities in your buildings, as well as many people working at home, consider twists that use familiar holiday food traditions to show appreciation.

  • For your employees and senior living residents:
  • Give holiday meal kits (prepare and send them home).
  • Create packaged food gifts (purchase or build a gift box of fruit, nuts, jellies, etc.).
  • Present gift cards (treat your staff and support local restaurants).

3. Plan revenue generation

Keep your food and finances flowing, with options you can market to your broader community. Some ideas can help your team avoid shopping at busy stores and risking exposure: 

  • Sell meal kits (prepare individual meals in batches and sell them for small get-togethers)
  • Provide DIY recipes (sell items to make at home, like pies, desserts or your special holiday comfort foods and sides)
  • Offer heat-and-serve meals (a take-home holiday family meal that serves 2, 4, 6 or more)

4. Consider retail options

Open a temporary micro market, or add to the one you already have. Stock with:

  • Holiday baking ingredients
  • Pies, cookies, fruits, etc.
  • Beverages

5. Provide holiday cheer

For long-term care, help families cheer up a loved one:

  • Send grandma/grandpa a special holiday meal or food basket.
  • Schedule a Zoom/Skype virtual holiday dinner or happy hour with loved ones.
  • Create a fundraiser, with a portion of sales supporting your community or a charity.

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