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NaCCRA Forum: Dining

Dining take home policy
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I’m from Harbor’s Edge in Norfolk, Va. we are very interested in your dishwasher-proof take-out containers. Can you tell me the brand?

Also, where does your composted food go? Thank you! Joyce Wooldridge

I live at an Erickson managed community in Baltimore County. Many of us bring out own bag and container for leftovers which eliminates the problem of asking for a bag. We can order soups, salads, and dessert to go which come in carryout containers.

Ann MacKay


We return the empty, rinsed containers to a central place (near the dining venuesin . Dining Services picks them up and puts them through the commercial dishwasher. Compostable containers are used if we have failed to return enough containers promptly or in case of meal delivery to someone with contagious infection. This happened more frequently in the last 2 years than was normal in The Before Times (pre-covid).

Claudia - Can you clarify. You say you have takeout containers that can withstand the heat of the dishwasher. Sounds like you have some process to return the containers to dining. Then you say you have compostable containers. Do they use both for different reasons?

Our takeout containers became the cardboard-like ones that replaced the Styrofoam. We throw them away. We were told to not store or heat food in these. My guess is that they buy the least cost items that do the job (get away from Styrofoam), and that make the least work for the shorthanded staff. These new containers must be compostable in the garbage, easily disintegrate.

Linda Kilcrease

Resident of a CCRC

Our Green Team investigated reusable take-out containers and found some that they come in various sizes and can handle the heat of commercial dishwashing. Dining Services to invest in them, and they are now standard here at Goodwin House in Northern Virginia. Where infection control requires containers to be tossed after use, Dining Services agreed to purchase compostable containers (we compost all kitchen and dining waste as well as whatever food waste and compostable material residents bring to the bins). We have been styrofoam-free for well over decade.

We can ask for our leftovers to take home, except during special buffet meals. Take-out is available from all dining venues, although in the dining room it must be ordered ahead during certain hours.


Dining is residents only. Cannot take food (leftovers) out of the dining. Assume it is because people would pile up their plates to take out food for the next day's meals. Buffet dining is all you can eat. No menu dining yet due to low staff number.

Take out can be used to buy your meal, with an extra-large entree if you want, and buy meals for guests, eating in apartments.

Lunch dining, and a specialty marketplace, are ala cart, sit down or take home.

Linda Kilcrease

Resident of a CCRC

I think that sometimes the way a meal is served might influence policies about taking left-overs with you. It also helps if there is a definition of what constitutes a meal, especially if a CCRC is on a meal allotment plan versus a declining balance arrangement, the latter using an a la carte price for each chosen item. (For example: a meal debiting a monthly allotment number is defined as one cup of soup, one salad or fruit cup, one entree, 3 sides, a roll, a beverage, and a dessert.) Are meals via table service (like a restaurant), or a cafeteria line where a server behind the sneeze bar glass transfers a requested item to a plate? In either case, the resident can probably ask for less than a full helping, but probably not more. Dining staff "controls" the size of a helping. Why couldn't a person take leftovers with them, especially if food left on a plate gets thrown out. (We're in our second CCRC. At our first, we thought a local pig farmer might want the cast-out food for slop, but no --- the Health Dept requires it be re-cooked.)

With management "controlling" the portions, what is the justification for NOT permitting the taking of left-overs? I would ask management what the "issue" is ---- Is the limit of "just one small carryout container" because of the cost of the containers? Why not have people bring their own carry-out containers? Because styrofoam can't be left in "recycle bins," they require some special steps. We try to get our styrofoam (cleaned by residents after use) accumulated somewhere (A woman who no longer drives offered her car out on the parking lot!!) then taken, by willings residents, to a place that is making bricks of some kind.

I hope residents will achieve a clear dialogue with management so you can get to the root of their edicts.

I’m in an LCS CCRC of around 300 residents. We have gone full circle on dining takeout of leftovers policy. Before the pandemic, a no leftover takeout policy was instituted in the main dining room and the grille (both having full table service). During the pandemic, all meals were delivered to your apartment at no charge. We have now returned to lunch and dinner in the main dining room and grille, but many prefer to get the food delivered to the nearest elevator at no charge. Administration is having a problem luring people back to the dining spaces but there appears to be slow improvement. As in most places, servers for dining spaces are below ideal numbers but they get the job done. We can again take leftovers from the dining spaces to our apartments, probably because of pressure applied by the food committee. I personally bring a variety of plastic containers to meals in a small beach bag, so there is no cost to the institution in labor or container costs and the decision on what to bring back to the apartment is up to me, not the institution/server. This works well for me, but as I said, the institution has relented on allowing items to even be packaged in a container (e.g. soups) in the kitchen. I think the food committee might be your best bet, if they are persistent and are listened to. And if you can decrease container costs to the institution it would help.

At my CCRC in suburban Baltimore the policy prohibits taking left-overs from the Dining Room. We may take a piece of fruit and nothing else.

Our dining room is undergoing a test period following a complete renovation and currently limits reservations to 60 residents per evening. When management can provide sufficient staffing the number allowed will increase. The dining room is only open for the evening meal.

We also have a "Cafe" where residents may go through the hot meal and sandwich lines, etc. Residents may state they want to take out or eat in the cafe. All items except the hot entrees are prepackaged so one just goes around the room selecting what they want to eat.

We also may order our meals to be delivered to our door. There is currently no charge for this service.

We are having the same staffing problem that confronts the entire food service industry. At present we are short 24 people in our food service staff. I am amazed they are able to provide the service the do with that staff shortfall.

Recently our CCRC, part of the Erickson managed communities implemented a policy where residents will be limited to one (small) carryout container in all restaurants with table service. In addition, the restaurant will no longer provide a bag to carry one's leftovers home.

Are there other CCRCs which limit or prohibit carryout of leftover meals. Pleas provide as much detail as possible.

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