Providers have been working to make senior housing more of a community destination, and one broader food trend could help dramatically.
Enter food trucks, mobile stations known for their convenience and diverse, artisanal food selections. Senior Housing News pinpointed food trucks as a major trend from which senior living can benefit in its new report, “Innovative Food and Dining Trends in Senior Living.”
On the surface, food trucks might not seem to have a place in senior living, given that most communities have extensive dining programs to begin with. Since food trucks have grown in popularity in recent years and senior living providers are constantly looking for ways to please their residents and attract the community at large, though, the prospect of hiring them for events and marketing them to the surrounding neighborhood has become more plausible.
“I see no reason why food trucks wouldn’t welcome catering any opportunity, including senior living,” says Gabriel Wiesen, founder of Beavers Donuts in Chicago, which operates food trucks. “I definitely think it would work. It’s cost-effective; it provides good food; and it can be tailored to different palates and food allergies [if needed].”
Frontier Management, for example, finds two to three local food trucks to serve food at the grand openings of its newest communities, using social media to promote the events to a greater audience. Frontier has 78 operational communities, along with seven under construction and five others soon to be acquired.
Frontier first deployed food trucks about a year and a half ago, at Carmel Village of Clovis, an assisted living community in Clovis, California. The grand opening drew approximately 1,500 people, not all of whom were seeking out senior living for themselves or loved ones. Any given Frontier grand opening attracts between 700 and 1,000 people, and fewer than one-third are true target clients, says William Swearingen, vice president of sales and marketing for Frontier.
Typically, grand openings are geared toward those who might put down a deposit to move in, but the main goal with food trucks for Frontier is to increase brand awareness, generating a new perception of what senior living is all about.
“It’s about dispelling the myth—creating a place you’re not fearful to come to,” Swearingen says.
Editor’s Note: The full report, “Innovative Food and Dining Trends in Senior Living,” is available here.
Written by Kourtney Liepelt
Photo courtesy of Frontier Management