5 Industry Veterans Share Top Senior Living Dining Trends, Experiences in 2024

Senior living operators continue to innovate dining for the next generation of residents entering communities.

From crafting experiences based around choice, flexibility and sustainability, providers are making strides to improve dining experiences. Senior Housing News caught up with five culinary leaders in the industry to ask three questions about the year ahead in senior living dining:

  • What are some of the top trends you see in senior living dining in 2024? 
  • What dynamics are shaping the current dining experience? 
  • What types of experiences are residents seeking in dining this year? 

What follows are those leaders’ responses. Hear more insights live from these and other industry veterans at our upcoming DISHED event in Chicago on May 16 and 17. Tickets are still currently available.


Ryan King, Vice President of Culinary Services at The Arbor Company

Top trends: I have been seeing an increased emphasis on health and wellness and wanting to see a larger variety of vegetarian and health focused menu items. Additionally, we are seeing a lot more questions surrounding where our products are coming from and wanting to see more local produce and vendors being utilized.

This has been great because we can leverage the relationships with our purveyors to do special functions for our residents, such as farmer’s markets or educational pieces on the health benefits of specific foods.

Dynamics: In our larger blended communities (IL, AL, MC) we are seeing more people want flexibility in their dining options. Residents do not always want to sit down for a formal meal and are looking for alternatives like grab and go markets and takeout / delivery options that give them more flexibility to enjoy a meal at their convenience instead of having to come down to meal service during “traditional” dining hours.


Experiences: Less formality and more experience. Residents want to see more live cooking experiences or to dine with entertainment and a theme. This could be as simple as a culinary tour or can be more elaborate like murder mystery dinner or comedy shows.

With the weather warming we have seen a lot of traction surrounding al fresco dining with our chefs preparing pizzas and sandwiches or utilizing the smoker in our outdoor spaces where the residents can see the food being prepared and get to interact with our chef’s.

Greg Sever, Vice President of Culinary Experience at Experience Senior Living

Top trends: A shift to genuine, skills based and fundamental cooking.

Dynamics: Finding and retaining staff to do the aforementioned, as well as training them how to do it (fundamental, skills based cooking) and the why.

Experiences: Consistent ones, reliable ones, post covid and still in a labor jam, people just want hot, timely food that tastes good.

Michael DeGiovanni, Vice President of Culinary Operations at MorningStar Senior Living

Top trends: Greater variety in restaurant style menus including healthier options, global flavors, and wine and food paired dinners, Higher emphasis on training for quality restaurant service with expanded wine, microbrew, and cocktail offerings in the dining rooms.

A much larger focus in memory care to provide meal and snack options using ingredients that have been shown to have beneficial effects on brain health. Bistros that can offer both grab and go foods along with fast heating items to provide more options and choices to the resident.

Dynamics: A more active clientele that is looking for healthier options, including vegetarian and vegan choices, both in the dining room and in grab and go packaging in the bistro. Larger dining spaces with booth seating to accommodate family and friends dining together. More food outlets in the community with offerings that are different from the dining room.

Experiences: Tableside cooking of food items, outdoor patio and sky terrace dining and happy hours, elevated plate presentation, personalized chef interaction, restaurant style service.

Paige Hoffman, Director of Club Sustainability at Cordia at Grand Traverse Commons

Top trends: Technology is transforming senior living dining with online ordering systems, digital menus, kitchen automation, and even robots; all aimed at enhancing efficiency and convenience for residents and staff.

Sustainability is a key focus in 2024, with efforts to reduce food waste, source local and organic ingredients, and implement eco-friendly practices in kitchen operations. These initiatives address the bottom line while bringing responsible practices to the forefront of dining operations.

Flexible dining options are better accommodating resident’s preferences and schedules. These options may include multiple dining venues, grand-and-go options, and extended dining hours.

Dynamics: A new generation of residents entering senior living communities is reshaping the dining experience. These residents are more technologically savvy, seek optionality, and often have higher expectations for culinary innovation and personalized menus. Sustainability is gaining importance among both current and future residents, influencing the priorities of dining operations as well as opportunities for resident engagement in dining.

Experiences: Residents are increasingly seeking flexible dining options to accommodate their versatile lifestyles. Based on my experience, residents desire a range of choices and also seek to be part of innovative experiences. This could vary by location, but our current residents are enthusiastic about initiatives like growing food from their compost and using online ordering for takeout.

Kristen Burman, Director of Culinary and Mentor at Solera Senior Living

Top trends: Upscale comfort food (emphasis on comfort by demographic), brain-health supporting diets, farm-to-table cuisine, approachable international cuisine

Dynamics: Residents making value-driven choices – there are many still of the Greatest Generation who created their wealth and savings through hard work and smart purchasing and investing; higher volume of special dietary and mobility needs within the IL and AL communities alike; younger residents pushing for later dining hour.

Experiences: Food-based activities – special dinners, in-house farmers markets, cooking demos, integrative happy hours

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