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The Top 4 Operational Challenges in Foodservice Programs

Managing an internal foodservice program presents a unique set of challenges that are, at times, difficult to work around. Whether you are working in a cafeteria or selecting equipment for a corporate breakroom, these 4 challenges will present themselves during the process. 

Come along for the ride as we dive into not just the challenges but, more importantly, the solutions available to you when you tap into the power of a group purchasing organization (GPO) or cooperative for your foodservice program. 

Consistency & Availability

In foodservice programs, the struggle with supplier support consistency and product availability often stems from many factors. The intricate nature of supply chains, coupled with seasonal and market fluctuations, creates challenges for suppliers to consistently meet demand. Beyond these factors, inflation plays a big role in the service and pricing your suppliers are able to offer you.

Addressing these challenges involves proactive communication, collaborative efforts, and strategic planning to foster strong partnerships between buyers and suppliers. Implementing technologies for real-time supply chain visibility can further enhance the overall consistency in supplier support and product availability within foodservice programs. 

Staffing Shortages & Turnover

The demanding and fast-paced nature of the industry, coupled with seasonal variations, contributes to burnout and temporary workforce gaps. Low wages and limited benefits make it challenging to attract and retain skilled staff, while unpredictable schedules and high physical demands impact work-life balance. In addition to that, foodservice employment is often not year-round which can make it difficult to attract and retain staff.

Tackling these challenges requires a comprehensive strategy encompassing competitive compensation, avenues for career growth, a supportive work environment, and initiatives to improve employee well-being and job satisfaction. In times of need consider finding ways to make the job opportunities more beneficial to those seeking employment or explore how you can leverage internship opportunities whether it be from your student population or an industry intern.


Heavy bid reliance in foodservice programs is often driven by the need to ensure cost efficiency, competitive pricing, and compliance with procurement and food safety regulations. In the context of foodservice programs, especially in sectors like healthcare, education, and government, where large quantities of food are procured regularly, the bidding process becomes a crucial mechanism to secure the best value for money. 

Striking a balance between the benefits of competitive bidding and the need for flexibility, innovation, and relationship-building is crucial to effectively address these challenges in the foodservice procurement landscape. 

Budget Management

Navigating the ever-changing landscape of food prices, shaped by factors such as seasons and market demand, brings a sense of uncertainty that calls for flexible budgeting. This journey includes the added expenses of meeting regulatory requirements, encompassing training, certifications, and compliance measures. Within this intricate financial tapestry, labor costs—encompassing wages, benefits, and turnover-related expenditures—emerge as a pivotal factor shaping the overall budget. As we continue this exploration, we encounter the complexities of energy and utility costs, the upkeep of equipment, and the conscientious management of food waste, further weaving the intricate threads of budget considerations. 

Successful budget management in the context of a foodservice program requires businesses to conduct comprehensive analyses, monitor ongoing expenses, and make informed, adaptable financial decisions. 

Strategic Solution: Purchasing Partnership



“We recognize that the foodservice industry is still evolving, changing, and recovering from the past few years which brought new challenges and magnified some old,” says Vanessa Perutelli, OMNIA Partners Vice President, Food & Nutrition. “Our focused support seeks to drive savings and operational incentives at the launch and throughout the program to ensure we proactively support our members through change, inflation, and service coverage.”

Collaborating with a GPO or cooperative for your foodservice needs is a strategic choice. We offer access to solutions for a variety of industries including K-12 and higher education, government, hospitality, catering, camps, and more. We facilitate connections with suppliers, covering everything from food and equipment to smallwares, uniforms and more, providing comprehensive support for your kitchen needs. 

To learn more about our foodservice program, contact our subject matter expert Vanessa Perutelli! 

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