In Charge of Company Catering? Here’s What You Need to Ask Your Coworkers

Posted by on Tuesday, February 11th, 2014 with Comments Off on In Charge of Company Catering? Here’s What You Need to Ask Your Coworkers Comments

If you’re an administrative assistant or office manager responsible for ordering lunches, handling catering orders, and planning staff parties, then you know how tricky it can be to please all the palates in a modern office! Between dietary restrictions and picky eaters, in fact, being in charge of company catering can seem like a Herculean task. Make your life easier by compiling a short questionnaire (voluntary and confidential, of course) and keeping a basic spreadsheet of your coworkers’ likes, dislikes, health-focused dietary goals, and special occasions.

office catering table with admin assistant in apron

Busy admin assistants know how hard it can be to please a hungry office!
Image source: flickr user katielou33

After all, the goal of office meals is to show appreciation, promote teamwork and social bonds, and create a positive workplace culture. While you may not be able to meet all needs at all times, making the effort will go a long way — and at least you’ll avoid ordering a chocolate ice cream cake for a party, only to discover the birthday girl doesn’t eat dairy. Here are the essential questions to ask your coworkers:

Do you have any allergies? 

Allergies in the office are more common than most of us probably suspect, with research showing that as many as 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies. Luckily, only eight foods are deemed responsible for the vast majority (up to 90%) of allergic reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Find out if any of your coworkers suffer from allergies, and you can plan celebratory meals accordingly so that every staff member can participate.

Do you experience any sensitivity to gluten or dairy?

Many of your coworkers may have dietary sensitivities that cause upset stomachs or digestive issues, but aren’t necessarily allergic reactions; two of the most commonly cited sensitivities are gluten and dairy, both which can be difficult to digest for many adults. Gluten-free diets are on the rise, with almost a third of Americans reporting they’re interested in trying to avoid gluten; meanwhile, lactose intolerance leaves many adults feeling unwell after eating ice cream or drinking milk.

coworkers at the lunch table

From vegetarians to calorie-counters to picky eaters, coworkers may have special needs that an admin assistant will need to take into account.
Image source: flickr user CPXi

Are you trying to meet any diet goals?

Between the rise of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses, serving primarily healthy food to employees should be on the forefront of every company catering plan. Still, if your colleagues are trying to cut back on sugar or avoid highly processed carbohydrates, you can make sure to provide diet-friendly alternatives at every occasion (yes, even birthdays).

Do you practice a vegetarian or vegan diet? Would you like to see vegetarian options at staff meals?

These are two very different questions. While only five to six percent of Americans describe themselves as vegetarians (and less than one percent are vegans), many more are actively trying to cut back on meat consumption, especially on Mondays. Find out if your officemates would appreciate meat-free options at staff meals, and take a cue from plant-based, pescetarian-friendly diets like the Mediterranean diet or the heart-healthy DASH diet to serve tasty, meatless office lunches.

birthday pie

When you know your coworker’s favorite dessert, their birthday becomes more special!
Image source: flickr user silver marquis

What’s your favorite kind of cuisine (Italian, Mexican, Indian, etc.)? What’s your favorite dessert?

Don’t just find out what your coworkers don’t like to eat — find out what they love! When you’re celebrating success in their department or an individual milestone, it will be even more meaningful if your coworkers find their favorite dishes waiting for them on the catering table.

When’s your birthday?

Because whether you celebrate individually or with a monthly group party, birthdays are a great excuse to break up the office routine!

When it comes to office lunches and special celebrations, can help ensure every employee can participate with a delicious, diet-friendly meal! And with easy online ordering and Virtual Cafeteria Service, we make life easier for the busy admin assistants in charge of the company catering plan.

When it comes to feeding employees and coworkers, make your company's food program really count! If your workplace dining plan needs to take it up a notch — or if you don't have one at all — is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!

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