The Food Service System
By: Allan Aquino
A facility where large quantities of food intended for individual service and consumption are routinely provided, completely prepared. The term includes any such place regardless of whether consumption is on or off the premises and regardless of whether or not there is a charge for the food.
A foodservice director has many options for food production and service. Mostfoodservice directors inherit a foodservice system, but may make modifications to thatsystem or select and build a new system. For example, in today’s environment it is verydifficult to find adequate labor, which is forcing school foodservice directors to consideralternatives in food production. Also, there is a great concern about food safety,including Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) program implementation, andquality control that might be improved in centralized food production. If a change is to be made in the system, it is important to know what alternatives are available.
An external environment is a group of factors or conditions that are outside the organization but affect it in some extent. In business, this term commonly applies to elements related to out of control dimensions such as society, economy, regulations and political system.
Unique Characteristics of Foodservice
There are some characteristics of foodservice that make it unique compared to productionof other products. This uniqueness influences decisions that are made about productionand service. Some of these characteristics include:
- Demand for food occurs at peak times, around breakfast, lunch, and dinnermeals. Between these peak demand times, there are valleys or slow times.
- Demand for food may vary depending on time of year and competitive events,and production must be modified accordingly.
- A Guide to Centralized Foodservice Systems
- Food production and service are labor intensive.
- Both skilled and unskilled labor is needed.
- Food is perishable, requiring it to be handled properly before, during, andafter preparation.
- Menus change on a daily basis, thus, production changes daily.
Flow of Food
It is important to understand the flow of food through a foodservice system in order todetermine the system that will best meet your needs and to develop an effective HACCP program. Food flows through ten possible processes:
Storing Receiving Purchasing Cooking MenuPlanning Holding Serving Preparing Cooling Reheating
As we talk more about the four types of foodservice systems, you will find that all ofthese processes do not apply to all of the systems. Also, when food production iscentralized, a transporting process needs to be added. With a centralized foodservicesystem, there will be different processes (and critical control points) for the central food production facility and the receiving kitchens (satellites). In the chapter on food safety,there will be a more in-depth discussion about the critical controls that need to be in placeduring each process in the food flow.
Types of Foodservice Systems
Four types of foodservice systems are described in the literature: conventional,commissary, ready-prepared, and assembly-serve (Unklesbay et al., 1977). There arenumerous examples of each of these systems in operation, both in school foodserviceand in other segments of the foodservice industry; and there are many variations of them,too! A description of these systems will be useful if you are considering making changesin your operation.