Opinion: Ruby Parker Puckett FFCSI on the industry impact of Covid-19

Embracing change under any circumstances can be daunting, but the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic caused huge disruption and a ripple effect of unintended consequences – and change – for foodservice

More than two years ago the way in which the world’s population worked and lived changed forever. The coronavirus pandemic that began in China and began to spread rapidly, globally, was first identified as a “contagious virus”. Quickly mandates from CDC, WHO and national governments were issued to control the spread by wearing masks, distancing in stores/malls and large events, closing schools, and the requirement to take two vaccines (at different times) and, months later, a booster. Some states and healthcare organizations, including individual’s health, religious and those with certain allergies were not required to be vaccinated.

Under normal of normal conditions providing foodservice can be daunting, add to this a worldwide pandemic and it becomes a major challenge. Due to the changes in more technological equipment, food selection (more plant-base and organic), low wages in the last few years majors changes in the ways “we used” to do it to, caused foodservice to make changes in almost all operations of the service.

Be ready for change

Major changes can cause fears and mental health problems for, personnel and customers when conflicting information is provided by various sources (fake news) especially when fear is real. How do we protect our families, our customers? Will I have a job? Why do I have to be vaccinated? Why do I have to wear a mask?

Changes result in lay-offs, or a refusal to work. To offset the closure of businesses, reduced hours of work the US government provided stimulus compensation and some businesses were forced to pay unemployment compensation for the lack of jobs. In some locales these two payments were more money than full-time paid work, therefore many persons did not return to work, causing a reduction of the workforce. Some small businesses closed their businesses for good.

After some evaluation as to where and how the changes are affecting the personnel and the operation, the main discussions centered on whether to shut down, sell, keep, or change to a different type of foodservice operation to recover loss revenue. It also brought into focus that fact that every foodservice operation must always have an up-to-date emergency plan, (including a number of contingency plans), maintain a list of qualified personnel looking for positions and conduct meetings with staff to include lifelong learning.

In conclusion: always be prepared for a major disaster by maintaining a disaster food area, under lock and key. Keep items that do not require cooking, some baby formula and medical drinks (Ensure). At all times maintain a safe and sanitary work place. Keep good records too – you might need them again.

Ruby Parker Puckett FFCSI


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