U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of the American Dietetic Association September 2001 (Vol. 101, Issue 9, Pages A-28).


A questionnaire focusing on benchmarking measures and practices was developed and pilot tested with 22 foodservice directors at healthcare facilities. A revised questionnaire was mailed nationwide to 200 members of the American Society of Healthcare Foodservice Administrators and 200 members of the American Dietetic Association Practice Group, Management in Food and Nutrition Systems. The 111 respondents (28% response rate) included mostly self-operating foodservice directors using conventional production systems at facilities with an average of 300 patient beds. Nearly all used some type of benchmarking; however, only 28 facilities were benchmarking clinical productivity. Eighty-eight directors had used a benchmarking partner. Most directors used meal equivalents, patient days or meal transactions as workload indicators. Meal equivalents were calculated by a wide variety of methods. Labor hours were most often calculated as productive hours, and full-time equivalents. Respondents considered the most effective performance measure to be net expense per meal and food cost per meal. Chi-square analysis and a modified Friedman test showed that most variations in benchmarking practices were not related to size of hospital or type of management (self-operation vs. contract). For accurate comparisons, foodservice directors should use the same method of calculating meal equivalents as their benchmarking partners.