Food Management Digizine - Q2 2023

the same footprint by using vertical space more effectively. It might be distributed dining that brings the food closer to the students throughout the building and throughout the day. Perhaps it is a new way to increase accessibility for those in need financially or who suffer through food insecurity. It could be an avenue to receive safe food. (Think: food waste reduction and the repurposing of food safely and efficiently.) Provides an opportunity to entice people to eat healthier. We all talk a healthier game than we eat. In other words, no one eats completely healthy all the time and every day. We do not need to scream, “EAT HEALTHIER” at every turn. However, we do have the opportunity to impact the health of children by how we prepare, cook, and serve food. Gen Z, and Gen Alpha behind them, is asking for more transparency and authenticity in what they eat. Innovative teams are highlighting fresh, healthy food options. They are doing this in how they display the food and where they place the food in the serving sequence. Innovators are using more on-site preparation and they are “finishing” menu items in front of the customer. Maximizes operational flexibility. Innovation shows through in foodservice equipment and accessories that do more than one thing well. A cooler that can also be a freezer. Shelving that easily converts, morphs, and adjusts as needed. Cooking equipment that does not require an advanced degree to program or change modes. Serving equipment

technology, and new shelving units were also touted as innovative. In an industry that still cooks over fire, I began to question what really counts as innovative. Certainly, it cannot not just be that if it is new it is innovative. Or, because the manufacturer says it is innovative, it must be - right? For my own sanity, I decided to put some parameters around what I consider to be innovative. Here are some of my thoughts: Does more with less. Does the innovative product or practice allow the operator to do more with less? More food production with less labor? How about display more menu items in less space? Does it lead to more capacity for less dollars in a particular piece of equipment or area of the kitchen operation? Increases accessibility to food. Does the innovative product or practice allow the operator to expand their reach? That could be through ease-of-payment allowing for better throughput in a serving space or ease-of- placement that provides more food options in


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