5 Proven Steps to Serving Residents Hot Holiday Meals

Meals play a vital role in keeping residents’ spirits up, especially during the holidays. 

Your staff puts so much heart and effort into preparing nourishing and satisfying meals, yet time and distance between the kitchen and residents can interfere with even the best of intentions, leaving foods at disappointing temperatures. 

If you’ve been hearing from residents or their families about cold or lukewarm food, try comparing your current process to the following 5 steps to look for gaps that may be causing temperature loss.

These proven practices reinforce the entire serving process to ensure that food never has a chance to lose heat. Food is served hot, and residents can enjoy pleasing meals throughout the holidays and beyond.

1.     Start with hot food.

Promptly place pans of freshly-cooked food into heated wells. FWE Tray Line Heated Holding Cabinets have individually controlled wet serving wells with heated holding cabinets below for convenient replenishment. 

These heated compartments not only provide a steady supply of hot food, but they provide soft, uniform heat that gently surrounds food to preserve flavor and appearance. FWE offers models with 2 to 6 wells along with optional service line accessories such as a sneeze guard and tray slide shelf.

2.     Place food on a hot plate.

A cool or cold plate will naturally draw heat from food, so starting with a hot plate is an essential step that adds yet another layer of protection to guard against heat loss. Cambro’s classic white ceramic dinnerware can be heated to help support proper serving temperatures.

A plate heater (also known as a lowerator) is a convenient way to heat large quantities of plates all at one time. 

Some base heaters and hot holding cabinets can also be used for this purpose but be sure to check the owner’s manual first.

3.     Add active heat with a thermal base.

Once holding and transport times exceed 15 or 20 minutes, food needs to have an active heat source to keep it safe and appetizing. 

The Camduction Complete Heat System by Cambro Healthcare efficiently heats up to 20 Camduction Bases all at once in just 4 to 6 minutes. When used with a 9″ heated plate and an insulated dome (step 4) the Camduction Base helps foods stay at or above 140˚F for up to an hour. 

With 20 independent base slots, the Camduction system significantly reduces the risk of downtime and service interruption that can happen with single-base chargers.

4.     Serve in insulated ware.

Insulated ware serves multiple purposes. It safely separates hot and cold foods to prevent them from affecting each other’s temperatures. At the same time, it makes for a more attractive, coordinated presentation.

The Harbor Collection by Cambro Healthcare is a coordinated collection of insulated domes for 9″ plates, mugs, and 5 and 9 ounce bowls. Made of durable polypropylene, the Harbor Collection is NSF listed and high temperature dishwasher safe, so all pieces are unbreakable and easy to keep sanitized.

Disposable or reusable CamLids help extend temperature retention in soups, broths, and beverages while making delivery safe and spill-free. You may be able to get all new mugs and bowls for free since Cambro gives away free ware to customers who regularly use Cambro disposable lids. Contact us for full program details and to see how to qualify for free goods.

5.     Transport in a ventilated delivery cart.

Using insulated ware is a key measure toward maintaining proper temperatures, but when hot and cold foods are near each other on a tray, a ventilated cart is the last step to safeguard successful delivery. 

Any heat that escapes from heated bases or beverages will flow out of the cart and away from cold foods so it doesn’t affect them.

The Cambro Dual Access Room Service Cart holds 10 trays and has doors on both the back and front for easy loading and unloading. 

A center opening provides self-venting airflow for optimizing humidity and temperature between both sides of the cart, providing that vital final step of delivering meals at proper serving temperatures.

Cambro also offers larger-capacity meal delivery carts to hold 16, 20, and 30 trays. 

We wish you hot food and happy residents this holiday season. You’ve earned it! If there is anything we can do to help your operation run more smoothly and make your days a little brighter, we’re here for you. Contact us.