They say that necessity is the mother of invention. If that is true, and I think it is, then competition has to be considered at least the older sibling of growth and innovation. Recent advancements in healthcare foodservice represent a prime example.

A generation ago, healthcare foodservice was serving a more or less captive audience, but today that is anything but the case. In fact, retail and catering sales represent a fast growing aspect of healthcare foodservice.

Similar to college and university foodservice, healthcare foodservice operators now compete for discretionary food dollars and, in many cases, with other foodservice providers to keep consumers on campus. Today's healthcare foodservice operators compete by offering upscale gastronomic menus designed to win the food fight with hospitals in their competitive set as well as the restaurant offerings in their local communities.

For many healthcare facilities, the quality of their foodservice offerings has evolved into an important differentiating feature for the communities they serve. The healthfulness of the food they offer now links to the overall mission of the facility: making people healthier. With hindsight, we can say that perhaps it always should have been this way, but awareness levels in the general population about the importance of eating well as it relates to our health, have raised the importance of providing fresh, locally produced, healthy food options, especially in a healthcare setting. In addition to providing healthier food options, many healthcare foodservice operators now offer cooking demonstrations and classes to further educate their consumers. Simply put, today's healthcare foodservice operations are leading by example.

As a result, healthcare foodservice has become one of the most innovative and dynamic operator segments in the industry. Placing an increased emphasis on sustainable practices, innovation, training and more, this operator segment represents a key intersection for many of the foodservice industry's hottest trends. The net result is an operator community that's more creative, responsive and flexible than ever. Further helping to raise the overall professionalism in this segment is the fact that healthcare foodservice has become a career destination for a variety of highly trained chefs, who bring with them the culinary excellence that once was the exclusive domain of the restaurant industry.

We at FE&S found the ongoing evolution of healthcare foodservice so compelling that we decided to dedicate this entire issue to this diverse and engaging operator community. When it comes to healthcare foodservice, the operators' professionalism is second only to their passion for their craft and it shows in the various articles throughout this issue.

So, regardless of your position within the industry, if you have a foodservice issue that's ailing your company, I am sure you can find a cure in this issue of FE&S.

All the best,