As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep the nation, senior living communities across the country are having to adjust. With dining room services suspended and residents taking meals in their apartments, Kisco Senior Living, a senior living and lifestyle management company, started evaluating more sustainable and cost-effective ways to deliver food while keeping the safety and well-being of its residents and associates a top priority. Kisco’s latest initiative of making the switch from disposable Styrofoam and one-time use food containers to eco-friendly, reusable takeout containers has done that and more.
“One of our communities in North Carolina, which had already been taking initiatives to reduce its footprint, approached us with an idea for a more sustainable solution to dining services,” said Randall Lonoza, director of culinary services. “We did some research into eco-friendly, reusable containers, and were pleasantly surprised at the impact switching over could make not only financially for the short-term, but also for long-term quality that Kisco Senior Living strives to provide. We see this as a standard going forward—not just a reaction to our current situation.”
As a whole, Kisco was spending more than $170,000 on disposable containers per month for room-serviced meals to residents across 20 communities, while more than 3,000 cubic feet of Styrofoam waste sat in dumpsters at the end of each day—enough to fill 4,000 bathtubs per week. The initial purchase investment into these eco-friendly containers was just over $100,000. Lonoza estimates only two weeks of use is required to break even, and the environmental impact is priceless. Additionally, with 100% room-delivery dining at all communities, there’s a sense of pride among residents and staff.
Kisco invested in eco-friendly food containers that are washable in their industrial machines, BPA free and non-toxic, microwave safe, and can be used about a thousand times before being compromised. The container purchase included three containers of each type—three-compartment serving, side dish/dessert, and soup container—for each resident. An unexpected added benefit of switching to these containers is the unique snapping lids that prevent leaks and provide temperature control, which is important as delivering in-residence meals can take longer than serving in the dining room. Lonoza shared, “To keep the high Kisco quality that residents expect, hot food needs to be served hot, and these reusable containers retain heat, unlike many Styrofoam and one-time use containers.”
Every Kisco community is being trained in new best-practice protocols for room service that will ensure the safety of residents and dining staff, including keeping outgoing and incoming carts separate. “We’re staying mindful of our processes so that everything will be cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected properly. These extra training precautions help Kisco do their part to flatten the curve during this unprecedented time of uncertainty,” said Lonoza.
This switch is the latest action from Kisco in Making a Difference Every Day®. Many communities have already started serving residents with the reusable containers and feedback has been positive.