Celery, milk, and eggs are some of the products available at the pop-up grocery store.

Food for thought: Adapting our caf during COVID-19

When Todd was the regional chef for three local universities and colleges, he experienced the impact of strikes on cafeteria food services.

“It was eight weeks long, and people disappeared from the campus, the community and services changed, and things changed by the hour,” he says. “You had to be dynamic when it came to serving your clients and the community.”

Now, years later and just a few months into his new role, Todd’s navigating an almost similar situation as Chef Manager at Holland Bloorview through Sodexo, the company that provides food services to the hospital.

“I’ve never been through a pandemic—it keeps me on my toes,” he says. “We’ve had to think about other alternatives with how quickly things are changing. But I’ve had great support from the senior management and my colleagues at the hospital.”

With COVID-19 safety measures in place, the food services staff have switched to a more contactless approach.

While not much has changed for the hospital’s in-patients when it comes to food services, the cafeteria has seen some new options.

Now, the team that usually serves made-to-order sandwiches, salads, and fresh entrées, have switched up to instead offer grab-and-go options, pre-packaged entrées, and a newly added pop-up grocery store.

They’re ideas, Todd says, that came about after talking with Sodexo chefs across the nation.

“As healthcare chefs, we discussed challenges, best practices, and how we’re best serving our clients,” says Todd. “And with the [take home meals and grocery store], I think it's the best way, right now, to do that.”

Grab your groceries and go

Chick peas, mushrooms, flour, and rice, are just some of the products staff and families can find at the hospital’s newest food initiative.

With Sodexo’s services hunkering down on output, Todd has found a convenient solution to ensure their food inventory won’t go to waste.

“A lot of restaurants are changing or pivoting into not just being a takeout provider, but also providing something similar to grocery store services,” he says. “I figured it would work here, not in the delivery aspect, but on-site.”

And he hopes services like this can ease staff’s burdens. While he admits it probably won’t fulfill a full grocery list, it may prevent staff from needing to visit a grocery store for the produce they need on a day-to-day basis. 

I'm so glad that I get to come to work every day and still feed our clients and support the community,” he says. “So, if I could make someone’s life just a little bit easier, where they could get milk, eggs, and bread right at work, that would just make me so happy.”

The grocery store will be open between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday to Friday.

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