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Filet-Mignon-in-GET-container.jpg Kisco Senior Living
Filet mignon maintains its temperature integrity for an extended period in a GET eco-friendly while awaiting room service delivery at a Kisco Senior Living facility.

Kisco Senior Living remains sustainable, cuts costs with eco-friendly reusable meal containers

Kisco Senior Living provides 100% room delivery of meals to residents without disposables by using eco-friendly, transparent meal containers that maintain temperature integrity, are attractive and save both money and landfill space.

When it implemented 100% room service meals to residents across its 20 senior living communities, Kisco Senior Living discovered it would spend more than $170,000 a month on disposable containers while generating more than 3,000 cubic feet of Styrofoam waste each day. But then, it found a better way with a line of eco-friendly meal containers from vendor G.E.T. Enterprises.

“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,” explains Randall Lonoza, Kisco’s director of culinary services, about the origin of the idea. “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.”

The research included abusing the products to see how they would hold up, he adds.

GET-eco-friendly-meal-container.jpgPhoto: Eco-friendly containers from GET replaced the thousands of disposable containers used by Kisco Senior living to deliver 100% room service meals across its 20 senior communities after the coronavirus forced onsite restaurants and café to close.

Photo credit: Kisco Senior Living

“We banged them up, we put them in the microwave too long, we basically just tried to run them through the most destructive tests we could but they just wouldn’t break on us, so after that and [determining] how many uses we might get out of them, we decided to go forward with them.”

Kisco ended up purchasing three types of containers for each resident–a three-compartment model for serving entrees with components, one for side dishes or desserts and one for soups.

The initial purchase investment into containers was just over $100,000 and Lonoza estimates only two weeks of use is required to break even while the environmental impact is considerable. The eco-friendly food containers are washable in the company’s industrial machines, BPA free, non-toxic and microwave safe, and they can be used about a thousand times before being compromised. Also, because they are transparent, they reduce order errors and the likelihood of contamination because the contents are readily viewable without having to open the containers.

Previously, the use of disposables was becoming an operational as well as environmental nightmare.

“It was pretty crazy,” Lonoza says. “We had communities that were having to move from three pickups a week from a waste management company to six, and we were having to add on additional dumpsters to deal with the volume we were going through.” The discarded disposables also tended to be tossed with varying amounts of food still in them, adding to the mess, he adds.

Bulgogi-Lunch-in-GET-container.jpgPhoto: Bulgogi rice bowl and somen noodle salad in a GET eco-friendly container ready for room service delivery at a Kisco Senior Living facility.

Photo credit: Kisco Senior Living

Before the coronavirus crisis, Kisco had already offered room service for residents, but the limited volume allowed it to use china, silverware and glassware as most residents ate at the onsite cafes and restaurants that each community offered. When those restaurants closed in response to the coronavirus crisis and Kisco went to 100% room service, it opted for using disposables because the china/glassware approach was no longer practical given the massive increase in volume.

“If you consider the china, the silverware, the glasses, plus the lids needed to maintain temperature, the weight builds up pretty quickly on the carts,” Lonoza explains, making them difficult and unwieldy to move while inviting spillage, breakage and other disasters.

“The [G.E.T.] containers allow us to get around that logistical challenge because they have these little peg feet on their bottoms [to secure them to the cart] and they are also designed to be stacked and locked into place with each other so we don’t have things moving around on the cart while we’re doing the deliveries.”

Lozana estimates that across the 20 communities it operates, Kisco delivers anywhere from 30,000 to 45,000 meals daily, with most of the menu retained from the now-shuttered onsite restaurants. The eco-friendly meal containers allow even high-end dishes such as the steak and lobster tail or grilled sea bass that one community in Virginia Beach serves as part of its weekly Tasty Tuesday special to maintain their integrity while being transported.

Halibut-in-GET-container.jpgPhoto: A special halibut meal not only maintains temperature integrity but also makes an attractive presentation in the transparent GET eco-container.

Photo credit: Kisco Senior Living

Meals are prepared in a central kitchen—or in some communities with far-flung residential areas, several kitchens—and transported to the residences on a set schedule. After the meals are consumed, the containers are left outside the residences for pickup at designated times, usually a couple of hours after the meal period for which they were delivered.

To ensure maximum safety for residents and staff alike, every Kisco community is being trained in new best-practice protocols for room service, including keeping outgoing and incoming carts separate, Lonoza stresses.

“We’re staying mindful of our processes so that everything will be cleaned, sanitized and disinfected properly,” he says. “These extra training precautions help Kisco do their part to flatten the curve during this unprecedented time of uncertainty.”

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