Kitchen Cent$

No matter which method is used to project dining costs, each will give a benchmark to compare actual to projected costs and keep the camp on track to financial success. A weekly cost analysis is recommended to stay in control of food expenses. A simple

To remain in control of food expenses, conduct a weekly cost analysis.  Photo courtesy © Can Stock Photo Inc. / ilona75

To remain in control of food expenses, conduct a weekly cost analysis.

Photo courtesy © Can Stock Photo Inc. / ilona75

beginning-inventory plus purchases minus ending-inventory will give a real-time cost of goods sold (or food costs). Divide that figure by the number of meals served, and that is the actual cost per meal. Any significant variance from projected costs should be investigated in a timely manner to maintain control of expenses. Controlling labor expenses is easy to track. Some kitchens are staffed by professional chefs with a full-time support staff, while other kitchens are run completely by volunteers. No matter where your camp falls in this range, be sure to include hidden costs, often up to 30 percent additional, like unemployment taxes, FICA employer taxes, and insurance costs and benefits directly related to the food service.

The key to effectively control dining expenses is to use the numbers as a tool for financial success. Apply the Marine Corps mantra: “analyze, adapt, and overcome.” No matter how well-intentioned your program, the long-term effects of your efforts will only be realized if you survive financially each year to serve again.

No camp ever plans to fail; often it just fails to plan. Today’s campers have a higher expectation for food quality and variety than just a few years ago (not to mention diets and ever-increasing food allergies). Mealtime is the one time at camp where all campers sit together. Young or old, campers or staff, three times a day they gather under one roof for food, fun, and fellowship. The quality of a camp’s mealtimes is a barometer of the overall quality of a camper’s experience. Follow the success guidelines of “plan to work and work the plan,” and you will have a great camp season ahead.

Jeff Pence is Operations Manager with Signature Services Corporation in Dallas, Texas. He is a University of Illinois   Business graduate in Organizational Behavior with 30 years of experience in food service and camp dining. He may be contacted at

Page 2 of 2 | Previous page

Related posts:

  1. Dining Hall Design And Kitchen Layout
  2. The Camp Kitchen
  3. Outside Flavor
  4. Chew On This
  5. Mobile Kitchen Webinars

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


HTML tags are not allowed.

  • Columns & Features
  • Departments
  • Writers