When the pandemic hit, foodservice administrators at Cleveland Clinic Florida, located in the southern part of the state, noticed that few healthcare workers and other clinic employees were frequenting the Aramark-run café to make food purchases. Despite the measures they were taking—keeping people distanced and the environment sanitary—people weren’t venturing far from their workstations, even for lunch.
It wasn’t just a fear of dwelling too long in a crowd. The distance to the café and long lines to purchase food ate into employees’ work breaks, leaving them without enough time to eat, much less enjoy a few moments of mental respite.
The short story: healthcare workers weren’t easily able to access food.
To solve this dilemma, director of food service Seanpaul Moorey, says the team started looking at ways to deliver food to the 3,000 employees throughout the clinic’s four-building complex—without raising prices and without charging delivery fees.
Photo: The foodservice team packs and seals orders and delivers them on foot. Customers are notified by text once it’s delivered.
Photo credit: Aramark
Aramark was already working with Mashgin, a touchless ordering and payment system. They expanded their use of the platform to bring online ordering to the clinic. Then they added on free delivery for breakfast and lunch options for all clinic staff, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. They do not deliver to patient rooms.
The platform allows individuals to order a full complement of breakfast and lunch options, from a mocha frappuccino to a green goddess melt to a bowl of chicken chili soup. The online ordering system includes sections for entrées, grilled meals, pizza (whole pies or a single slice), salad bar, soups, grab-and-go, drinks and sides.
It also includes a Starbucks menu with traditional coffees, hot and cold teas, add-ons and blended drinks. Every Thursday they offer sushi, with a menu that includes items such as dragon rolls and bento boxes. Sushi is the top seller every week.
The system makes it easy to update their menus throughout the day.
Once an order is placed, the foodservice team packs up and seals items and sends one of its team members on foot to deliver. If there’s a rush, they group orders together. If not, they deliver orders individually—even down to a single soda. Customers are notified by text when their order has been delivered.
They spent about $17,000 to set up the program. Costs included two tablets, two printers, lockboxes and delivery equipment. They also had to relocate or reposition some of their infrastructure. A major portion of the funds went to training employees and installing and testing the equipment.
Moorey says the program has grown slowly but steadily. When they rolled it out in December of 2020, they averaged around 10 orders per day. Now they average 60. Once customers can use a payroll deduct system, they expect orders to reach 150 to 200 per day, an option they plan to implement by the end of August.
To make the program a financial success, the foodservice team is dependent upon high participation.
“We know that revenue will help to offset the cost at some point,” Moorey says. “Our leadership has always been about finding a way.”
Photo: Because clinic employees weren’t easily able to access food during the pandemic, Aramark started providing free deliveries throughout the four-building complex.
Photo credit: Aramark
He emphasizes that the a moderately paced growth helps them create a food-delivery system that isn’t supported “off the backs of caregivers.” Instead, he says they started by exploring how they can us outside-the-box methodologies to support caregivers and encourage business growth.
So far, marketing has been one of their biggest barriers. Getting the word out to thousands of employees—particularly those who are new to the system—has proved challenging. Many still don’t know about the program.
To overcome this hurdle, the Aramark team is planning a marketing push that will coincide with the payroll deduct rollout, using table tents and signage in lunchrooms and in other areas that are frequented by healthcare workers throughout the facility.
Overall, they think the model will be good both for business growth and service to the clinic’s healthcare workers and support staff.
“Our intent is to be helpful to the caregivers we serve,” he says, to “show that our service and dedication is in line with the vision of the clinic leadership.”
Even as they grow the current program, they’re looking at ways to innovate and expand. He’s thinking about how they can offer services to a clinic across the street that is not part of the main interconnected campus, perhaps using a car or drone for deliveries.
“We’re just trying to find ways to fit within the clinic’s mindset and mantra of growing and being innovative.”