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Navigating Food Service Options

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One of the biggest questions we are hearing from camps is how should we handle the food service?  Whether you decide to serve family style, cafeteria, or a hybrid, you will need to think about not only how you will setup your service, but also what products you will need.  While we believe the final answer is still a few months away, we wanted to give you some guidance as you plan for Summer 2021.

 

The charts below help to breakdown some of the pros/cons of various options.  H&H Purchasing reminds you to consult with your local authorities as guidelines/recommendations vary by location.



 

Service Style – How are you going to serve meals?

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Family Style – a single person retrieves, or a server delivers, all food for their assigned table. 

Food is portioned per table size.

PROS

• Limits amount of people in contact during service. (i.e.- No standing in line)
• Use of “Pods” for family groups.
• Community-based eating.
 • Conducive to using alternative meal locations (i.e.- tents)

 

CONS

• Greater food waste.
• Increased amount of serving pieces needed (i.e.- platters, pans, etc.).
• Increased labor preparing and washing “Family” trays and serving pieces.
• Increased food costs.
 • Seconds can be a problem if in alternative location.



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Cafeteria Style – each person goes through the service line where staff serve the food.

PROS

• Less food wastes. Leftovers can potentially be reused if held at correct temperature.
• Food is fresher and hotter as staff cook into the meal.
• More food choices can be offered.
• Lower costs.
• Less dishware to wash.
• Easier for staggered mealtimes
 • Easier to transport food in bulk to other locations (i.e., tent)


 

CONS

• More staff needed for serving with additional service stations.
• Increased contact during service and potential for kids/staff standing in line.
• Challenges with serving in alternative locations (equipment, staff, etc.).
 • Potentially longer mealtimes. *

*Generally, cafeteria style will speed up mealtimes, but due to possible capacity restrictions in place due to Covid-19, mealtimes could be extended.

 

 

Food for thought…


 
Whether you choose to serve Family Style or Cafeteria Style, you will need to factor in how much staff you have working in the kitchen and/or availability from your general staff population (i.e.- Administrators, Counselors, etc.) Are you going to be serving in multiple locations other than your dining room i.e., tents, other buildings, etc.

 

Food Items: Portion-Controlled (P/C)/Single Serve vs Bulk Products

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Portion-Controlled (P/C)/Single Serve Products – using items that are one-time use and are thrown away after. (i.e.- Ketchup Packets, Dressing Pouches, Bowlpack Cereal, etc.)

PROS

• No cleaning necessary.
• Limited touch; more hygienic.
• Ease of use with multiple dining locations.
• More choices at meals can be offered.


 

CONS

• Increased waste.
• Increased cost.
• Possible issues with product availability.
• Less variety available from vendors.
• Increases time in line for cafeteria.
 • Distribution challenges for family style.


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Bulk/Retail Size Products* – using items that can be reused or served in bulk style. (i.e.- Squeeze Bottle Ketchup, Pour Bottle Dressing, Bulk Cereal, etc.)

 

PROS

• Less waste.
• More variety from vendors.
• Greater Savings.
 • Can be set on each table.

* Many Bulk Products need to be wiped down after use. Items would be designated by “pod” for their use and kept together in boxes or crates.

 

CONS

• More labor intensive for serving and cleaning.
• System to collect and clean after use.
• Storage limitations for boxes. (Some items may need refrigeration).
 • Choices limited at meals.

 

Food for thought…


 
Cereal – Do you need to use single-serve bowlpack cereal? If allowed, consider using bulk cereal in Rubbermaid Cereal containers that are assigned to each pod. You will need to reduce the number of cereal choices. If you decided to use bowlpack, consider the storage needs and availability for this summer, as well as the increased cost. If you decide to serve bowlpack cereal, are you comfortable serving generic branded cereal, keeping in mind that campers/staff will see the packaging?


 
Condiments/Dressing – Do you need to use P/C Condiments/Dressings? If allowed, consider using squeeze/pour bottles that are assigned to each pod. Each pod box can include ketchup, mustard, mayo, etc. and for dressings would need to be limited to 2 or 3 choices. If you decide to use P/C items, consider whether you would use name-brand or generic.
 

 


 Dinnerware: Disposable Dinnerware vs Reusable Dinnerware

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Disposable Dinnerware – using disposable plates, bowls, cutlery, etc. during service.

PROS

• Less cleanup.
• Less labor intensive.
• More convenient for alternative meal locations.
• Less chemicals used.
 • Decreased water usage and wastewater produced.

CONS

• More waste (can be mitigated with environmental options).
• Delivery and storage of large cases of products.
 • Need to stay on top of inventory and avoid running out.


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Reusable Dishware – using reusable plates, bowls, silverware, etc. during service.

PROS

• Less waste.
• Environmentally friendly.
 • Cost savings.

CONS

• More labor intensive to wash.
• Dinnerware leaving the dining room disappears at camp.
• Increased reliance on dishwashing machine.
• Increased chemical costs.
 • Increased water usage and wastewater produced.

Food for thought…


 
Based on our calculations, using disposables vs. reusable dinnerware should not result in a noticeable increase on your total budget. This is based on calculations using our vendor options including closeout environmental plates and bowls. Additional savings are achieved by assuming you will need less employees in the dish room as well as limiting your cost of operations for your dishwasher including chemicals and utilities.

 

Interested in calculating estimated costs and quantities if you were to use disposables?  If so, please contact us for our H&H Disposable Calculator:  support@hhpurchasing.com

 

 

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