Feb 24, 2020
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Budget Challenges

Offering wholesome, nutritious and delicious food can be difficult when budgets are already stretched thin. Nutrition Care Systems is able to find opportunities for improvement in every food service operation, no matter how efficient it may already appear. We leverage every opportunity for efficiency in food selection, menu and staffing to reduce costs and maximize budgets. And we did just that for a long-term care and rehab facility serving 200 residents in Brooklyn, NY. Faced with the possibility of bankruptcy, they had to find those efficiencies — and fast.

When a healthcare management company took over to help save the facility from bankruptcy, Nutrition Care Systems was brought in to review their dining program to help trim costs.  We were asked to review not only food costs but labor and staffing costs, as well.

The challenge was a lack of self awareness of the inefficiencies in the facility’s existing foodservice operation. The two registered dietitians on staff felt as if their facility was operating just how other homes in the area were operating. This narrow point of view required an outside perspective to point out deficiencies, and Nutrition Care Systems provided that perspective.

We dug right in, conducting an operational review of dining operations by observing meal service and meal preparation practices and reviewing kitchen and dining room layout. We also shadowed the facility’s diet clerk to gain knowledge of job responsibilities and interviewed kitchen & nursing staff and residents to get a better gauge on the situation — from every possible perspective. We also thoroughly reviewed staff schedules to determine labor costs versus productivity as well as invoices from food vendors and grocery stores. We reviewed the facility’s menus and proposed menu changes and food inventory practices to increase efficiency and reduce costs.

Not only did we discover opportunities for cost savings in menu and food selections, but we also uncovered a duplication of staff that would not only save nearly $40,000 a year, but would also make the trayline more efficient. We found opportunities for process efficiencies in entering food preferences and tray tickets. We recommended the development of job descriptions for all staff so that tasks were clearly defined and never unnecessarily duplicated. We even recommended a fair price increase in the facility’s coffee shop to provide a cushion against food cost increases.

Within one month, the facility was already seeing great signs of improvement. In fact, the facility’s manager had this to say one month following the completion of our project:

“We are making steady progress, and I’ve seen my raw food costs decrease almost $5,000 this month.”

The work Nutrition Care Systems did for this facility saved costs, improved value to residents — and saved them from imminent bankruptcy.