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Almost 50,000 jobs currently need to be filled in the healthcare industry.

According to more in-depth employment reports, this number may only continue to rise given the volatile and unpredictable curve ball that the labor shortage and the pandemic has thrown our way. Spanning from healthcare facilities to hospitals, these staggering statistics have begun to change the way foodservice may be handled in the long-term.

Unfortunately, the show must go on, and hungry patients and busy staff must get fed in healthcare. So, the ever-resilient healthcare industry is finding creative solutions to overcome these hurdles.

A few solutions include:

To learn more on micro markets or grab and go solutions, jump ahead to that section now. Or, continue on with common FAQ's regarding foodservice, self-serve, and served food in healthcare.

FAQ's on Healthcare's Issues in Foodservice

Grab and Go

We've taken some of the top-asked questions from healthcare providers, and did a deep dive of research to find what's trending and what's working with self-serve vs. served food. Read on to uncover these answers.


Is COVID-19 to Blame for Healthcare's Problems in Foodservice?

In short—not entirely. The staffing and related issues affecting the healthcare industry are very complex.

The healthcare industry has needed more workers for years—with higher wage demands, staffing gaps, and burnout, it can be difficult to hire or keep staff for long. Between the labor shortage and other related staffing issues that have hit since COVID-19 started, the healthcare industry has been affected in more ways than medically.


How Is Healthcare's Foodservice Changing in Challenging Times?

Healthcare workers in the kitchens and cafeteria of hospitals, senior living centers, and other healthcare facilities have seen the consequences of staffing issues and employee burnout, too. Fortunately, foodservice companies have developed changes and solutions so there are ways to navigate these challenges.


What Are the Current Trends in Hospital Foodservice?

Food Prep

Technology in hospitals and in healthcare facilities has become necessary more than ever. Between QR and online menus replacing paper menus and micro markets taking over hospital cafeterias, the future is already upon us. Finding foodservice solutions that are automated and improve both the patient experience and efficiency is essential to reducing the impact of the labor shortage.

Five Food Trends in Healthcare


Increasing spending on disposables and containers for sanitary eating


Offering grab and go food, snacks, and drinks as a quick solution


Upgrading equipment and serving systems for an improved cafeteria


Choosing innovative micro markets as a contactless payment option


Using carts to easily transport food for in-room dining


Why Are Healthcare Cafeterias Leaning Towards Self-Serve Food?

As many providers work towards completely re-opening their cafeterias or expanding their options, self-serve has become more popular than ever. Many hospitals and cafeterias already offered self-serve salad bars, soup, or other meal options prior to COVID-19. With the proper supplies, such as gloves and sanitizers, self-serve allows residents to choose what they want and doesn't require the manpower behind the buffet.


Is it Safe to Open Self-Serve Buffets or Salad Bars?

Salad Bar

Many hospitals and nursing homes that have already re-opened self-serve have seen the benefits—less staffing required and an increase in customer and patient satisfaction. Patients, guests, and employees are enjoying having access to self-serve, and according to managers, transactions and profits are up, too.

There may be apprehension about choosing self-serve for your cafeteria over staff-manned salad bars and buffets. Of course, following state and local health department instructions should be a priority.

Additionally, where self-serve stations are offered, the CDC recommends that operators:

Masks and Gloves

Provide masks and gloves and require that diners wear them while serving themselves

Pre-packaged Items

Use individual and pre-packaged items wherever possible, such as condiments or utensils

Restricted Access

Keep refrigerators and cabinets safe from contamination by restricting guest access


Place hand sanitizer or handwashing stations near the beginning and end of self-serve stations


Use signs or stickers to indicate that workers and diners should stay 6 feet apart


Provide no-touch options wherever possible, such as online menus or no-touch trash cans

If a self-serve buffet isn't the right option for you or you aren't prepared to re-open your buffet, you may want to consider alternative options, such as grab and go or a micro market. Continue reading on to learn about both.


What Are the Benefits of Micro Markets?


Micro markets are more popular than ever—especially with labor shortages affecting all areas of foodservice, including healthcare. They allow operators to take payments without requiring an employee to man the register. For you, this means your staff can focus on other important tasks while customers and employees still have access to vending.

Healthcare Micro Markets: Top Items Sold

Micro Market Top Products

*Vending Market Watch


Why Are Many Hospitals Turning to Grab & Go?

Grab and Go

Grab and go options allow foodservice in hospitals and senior living facilities to keep running—even with the existing healthcare labor shortage. There are many ways you can offer grab and go—from prepackaged foods, from chips and bottled drinks to sandwiches, salads, and yogurt parfaits stored safely in refrigerators.

Grab and go food trends show that selling these items not only increase safety and sanitization, but it cuts down on manned stations and labor demands in your cafeteria. Offering ready-to-eat foods may also result in additional profits.

Ultimately, times are changing—self-serve is starting to come back strong and it's here to stay. Hubert can help you find the products you need to establish or replenish new routines in your cafeteria and kitchen.

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Account Development Managers

Meet Hubert

Only Hubert delivers the expertise and products to solve complex challenges like overcoming the labor shortage, driving more food sales, and creating a memorable experience for customers.

For 75 years we've helped many industries—including hospitality, education, food retail, healthcare, retail, and more—overcome these unique challenges with our expertise and line of products, including displayware, display fixtures, décor, signage, bar & beverage, food prep equipment, large commercial equipment, ice machines, merchandisers, and back of the house equipment.

Want to learn more? Talk to an expert.