PHOENIX—A panel of experts identified trends they see coming in the dining aspect of senior living. The panelists—who convened at the Assisted Living Federation of America 2010 Conference & Expo here at the Phoenix Convention Center—confirmed residents "know" their food. They are educated, well-read, and watch a lot of television. There will be an increase in demand for specialized diets; less restrictive dining hours; healthy food, not diet food; more participation in menu development; and expectations for management to participate in meal service. These residents will also not want pre-packaged frozen foods. They will want more fresh vegetables and heart-healthy and diabetic-approved food choices. Heavy sauces, butter, and anything pre-made are dining no-nos. One panelist even said he was pricing espresso machines.
With the boomers coming, dining will be based on lifestyle choices and people are more aware of diet and exercise.
They will also expect chefs to be "touching tables," or mingling among the diners to hear feedback.
All of the panelists agreed that good food drives occupancy. It's a high priority concern people express when looking at long-term care communities.