Serving Up Meaningful Connections

Published on : 7/8/24
  • For many seniors, moving into a senior living community can be both daunting and exciting. They’re leaving the homes, routines, and traditions that are woven into the fabric of their being, and they’ll no longer see the familiar faces of people they know and love on a daily basis. In addition, they’re relocating to new surroundings where there may be at least 100 other residents and dozens of staff members they haven’t met but would like to. So how can senior living providers ease the transition from home to senior living community and provide opportunities for residents to meet people and make new friends? Great food and hospitality.

    Food as a Connector 

    Food plays a crucial role in fostering connections, evoking comfort, and nostalgia, and encouraging interaction. Dining together allows seniors to share preferences, opinions, and experiences.  Food should be fresh and flavourful, showcasing the talent of our chefs, the input of our registered dietitians and the seasonality of ingredients. The quality of our relationships with clients, vendors, suppliers, operators and thousands of partner sites among a variety of industries is unparalleled. In addition, we maintain an exceptional degree of collaboration and coordination between our registered dietitians, chefs, suppliers and operators. 

    Food is the ultimate conduit through which connections are made, friendships are formed, and memories are created. It provides comfort, nostalgia and familiarity while promoting interaction and great conversation. Food is the consummate reason to sit face-to-face and converse. Dining together at a table creates opportunities for people to learn about each other: their preferences, their opinions and their experiences.

    James Nesbitt,  Chief Operating Officer Health & Care, Campus and Corporate Services at Sodexo Canada, says:

    “Food is at the heart of all memorable experiences no matter which phase of life you are in.”

    Food Generates Comfort


    In senior living communities, food can also serve as a way to put residents at ease by finding out which meals bring them comfort and remind them of home. Serving foods that are intertwined with residents’ special memories makes them feel relaxed and perhaps more talkative, freeing them to share fond memories with other residents and perhaps staff. “Connecting residents through food is incredibly powerful.” Nesbitt says. “We make sure we serve the dishes that bring them comfort and joy, and bring this to life through our menus. With food at the center of our strategy, we aim to contribute to the social well-being of our clients, their residents, families, and communities.”

    Another good way to create connections among residents is by making them feel that certain meals were prepared especially for them. Live food prep stations allow residents to meet the chefs and tell them how they want their food prepared. It gives the impression that each resident has a personal chef that prepares a meal just for them.  “Our live food prep stations are always bustling,”  Nesbitt says.  “No matter what is being served, residents tend to form deep connections with the hardworking teams serving them every day.”

    Evolving to Create New Connections

    Dining services and menus in senior living communities should evolve to accommodate the preferences of new generations of seniors as they move in.  “As the next wave of Canadian seniors transitions into senior living, there's a growing demand for diversity in menu options and new experiences,” Nesbitt says.  “Baby boomers, accustomed to dining out, are now expecting restaurant-quality experiences in their new communities, which many current models don’t yet provide.”

    Food nourishes, revives, and connects people to their past, present and future. From beverages and snacks to entrees and desserts, each meal is an opportunity to recall memories, connect with others and share thoughts and ideas. Connection is important at any age, but it takes on special meaning as people get older, and one of the best ways to create connections among seniors is good food and hospitality.


    Senior Living in Canada 

    With Canada's aging population nearing 6 million in 2024, the need for connection has never been higher. Senior living communities need:

    • Customized food solutions
    • Facilities management services to meet their every need

    A partner whose central mission is increasing customer satisfaction and social well-being.  Encouraging social interactions during meals can improve both physical and mental health.  Recent research suggests Canadian seniors are less likely to skip meals when they have company. As we age, dining together fosters a sense of belonging, reduces feelings of isolation which promotes mental health.  

    As a global food services leader serving over 100 million meals a day in 56 countries, we know food brings people together and is core to connection. health and wellbeing.  Eating with others can come from joining a lunch group, eating with a neighbour, inviting a family member over, or planning a potluck with a few friends.  Having a comfortable place to meet with diverse options critical.

    Discover how our commitment to connection and wellbeing can transform your community.  Speak to a Senior Living representative today to see how we are helping our clients across Canada.