25.03.20 - 11:00
Compass Group Belgium opens emergency kitchen for health care sector
Top caterer Gourmet Invent, daughter of foodservices company Compass Group Belgium, reopens its central kitchen at the ICC in Ghent as an emergency kitchen for the health care sector.
Up to 1,000 meals a day; that will be the initial production capacity of Compass Group Belgium’s emergency kitchen in Ghent. A necessity, given the rapidly increasing demand from the sector.
“At this time, all of our Medirest kitchens are operating at full capacity,” says Bart Matthijs, Managing Director of Compass Group Belgium. “We currently have about 450 kitchen staff who go to work every day to provide meals to care staff and guests in hospitals and care homes all over the country. The restaurants themselves are of course closed, but we are providing takeaway meals and – for patients – distribution via regeneration trolleys. Meanwhile, we are even employing staff from other kitchens, from companies that have shut down momentarily.”
The new emergency kitchen meets the growing demand for takeaway meals in the health care sector.
“It is important that the care staff are looked after as well. That they have access to a sturdy, healthy meal during the few breaks they can get,” says Bart Vandendooren, GM of Gourmet Invent. “The event catering business has come to a complete standstill, and so has our kitchen. So this is really the best moment to step up and do more for the care sector, and to keep a number of our people out of economic unemployement as well. Besides, from a staff safety and food safety perspective, working from a central kitchen is the best choice. Especially since we asked an external control body to provide extra supervision and checks.”
Last weekend, a release was sent out to all the care instances and all the mayors and relevant authorities to announce this new offer in emergency care meals.
“The first orders have already come in,” Bart Matthijs explains. “We are currently putting the finishing touch on the logistics and will be able to launch kitchen operations on Wednesday. First deliveries will be made as from Friday.”
Those meals and their transportation will be subject to the strictest safety standards. The composition of menus is determined by Medirest dieticians. Delivery is handled with a refrigerated lorry, with 1 driver who will keep to all the rules of social distancing. After every delivery, the lorry will be completely disinfected.
As we write this it is increasingly probable that Belgium will be shortly put under lockdown.
We are actively working on scenarios for this eventuality and will keep you posted on any updates.
Our position re. lockdown at this time is the following:
- when the Federal Government decides to call for a lockdown, we will immediately cease all activity in Eurest and Scolarest sites.
- concering Medirest, we will focus on the highest priority: providing meals for guests and patients. We will be in touch with our care customers to check what you need from us to keep your nursing staff going 24/7. As far as we are concerned, all scenarios are possible.
- for all other matters, we will strictly follow the guidelines of the Federal Authorities
Closing of seating areas
We are still responding to questions from clients about the desirability or need to close seated areas for corporate restaurants.
In this, we follow the ordonnances of the Federal Ministry of Economy to the letter. These state that no restaurant (public or private) is allowed to keep seating areas open.
Authorities are monitoring the follow up and, where necessary, have the option to sanction violations under articles 182 and 187 of the Law on Civil Security of 15th May 2007.
Seating areas in corporate restaurants remain closed
Compass Group is in close contact with the services of the Prime Minister, the Federal Ministry of Economy and out industry representatives, under the Comeos banner.
We will adhere strictly to the guidelines released by the Ministry of Economy, which stipulate that takeaway is allowed on condition that seating areas remain closed.
This directive was further clarified on Saturday, and confirmed today, in contacts between the Ministry of Economy, Prime Minister Wilmès and Comeos CEO Dominique Michel, whereby it was indicated that this general directive also applies to corporate restaurants for employees.
[press release] Corona: Compass Group focuses on takeway offer for its restaurants
In view of the recent decisions of the Belgian National Security Council, Compass Group has decided to step up the measures we had already taken in the past few days.
At this time, our activities are heavily impacted by the current situation. It remains unclear for now whether the wider regulations concerning bars and restaurants also apply to the full and diverse activities of food service companies.
We are currently making decisions on an individual basis in close concertation with our customers. For the education sector we are investigating what offer we need to make available to the remaining staff and pupils.
For the care sector, based on the need for continuity, we are closely collaborating with our customers to provide a solid offer for care staff.
We will continue to align our approach to current events and decisions.
We are already seeing a move in many companies and institutions to allow people to telework and to keep only a minimum of workers in-house to carry out core duties. At those locations, we provide lunch by means of an alternative takeaway offer that will allow employees to buy their lunches and consume them elsewhere.
Compass Group Belgium's internal safety committee is monitoring developments as they happen, is in touch with the relevant organisations and authorities, and communicates on a continual basis with employees, customers and suppliers.