Healthcare Foodservice Trends: Engagement, Sustainability, and Nutrition

Healthcare Foodservice Trends: Engagement, Sustainability, and Nutrition

At the annual AHF Conference, the Computrition team always appreciates the opportunity to learn about the latest healthcare foodservice topics and trends. Consistent with last year, labor shortages continued to top the list of challenges in 2023. Consequently, we were excited to showcase retail online ordering because it empowers staff and relieves some of the burden on cashiers.

Among the healthcare foodservice trends we witnessed, operators striving for efficiency and satisfaction would benefit from the following:

Vector graphic of a hospital chef following the latest healthcare foodservice trends


Staffing shortages impact many industries, none more so than healthcare, which often leaves operators wondering how to retain employees. Healthcare foodservice departments should consider adopting these trends:

  1. More flexible schedules Treat hourly personnel with the same respect and dignity as salaried team members. If someone needs to take personal time, shift their hours to allow them to do so. A healthy work-life balance goes a long way toward promoting job satisfaction.
  2. Sense of community Unite teams by assembling shared communication channels. Leaders can connect with staff and show recognition by highlighting exceptional work, plus special occasions like birthdays and milestones.
  3. Ladder programs Employees may be more likely to stay if they receive upward mobility opportunities. Take chances to train foodservice workers in other roles to expand their growth while covering more job functions.


Conscious choices – e.g., items selected, kitchen equipment used, or utensils offered – contribute to a more sustainable future for healthcare foodservice. Many operators are embracing trends to support such initiatives:

  1. Responsible packaging Reusable products are ideal when possible. For to-go containers, replace Styrofoam and plastic with compostable or biodegradable options. Conscious customers and the environment will be grateful.
  2. Local vendors For all dishes, seek high-quality ingredients from nearby farmers. Seasonal veggies and fruits can elevate meals and delight customers’ tastebuds. Fresh and organic meat is preferable to frozen options for quality and flavor.
  3. Plant-forward menu offerings Harness the power of plants! You can start small by spotlighting vegetarian and vegan options alongside traditional meat options at action stations. Use post-meal counts and forecasting to assess popularity and adjust numbers as needed.


Nutrition is at the heart of all healthcare foodservice, and retail is no exception. Supercharge cafeterias by implementing the following solutions:

  1. Food labels
    Use nutrition labels on prepackaged items to educate patrons and encourage them to make the best decisions for their bodies. Listing ingredients will also help them avoid sensitivities or allergies while adhering to special diets.
  2. Digital displays
    Digital menu boards can prominently display information to assist and entice customers. Operators can even leverage color coding and icons to denote which choices are plant-based, gluten-free, keto, etc.
  3. Rewards system
    Operators can encourage healthy choices by rewarding patrons with a customer loyalty program. For example, facilities can offer points on salads but not on soda, thereby drawing attention to nourishing items.

Customer Collaboration

Thank you to Carle Foundation, our 1st place Data Champion of 2023! Many of the above insights on healthcare foodservice trends stemmed from their 2023 Virtual User Conference session, “Look to the Future.” At Computrition, we proudly celebrate our customers’ achievements and relish the chance to showcase their innovation.

If you are a Computrition customer and would like to view the VUC recording, please visit our support site or contact