By The Culinary Visions Panel
Higher education institutions may want to keep an eye out for a new kind of incoming freshman - senior citizens. For today's "new senior" citizens, retirement no longer means a period of slowing down. It means a second chapter in recreation, education, entertainment and even careers.
A research study by Culinary Visions® Panel showed that consumers of ages 55 and older preferred to live near urban and suburban areas to have greater access to education facilities and dining choices. Besides their love for educational and culinary adventures, senior citizens' dining preferences are also in line with the dining expectations of consumers under 35.
Many of the dining trends that are so characteristic of today's college and university campuses are high on the list of favorites for new seniors. Similar to food trends enjoyed by younger consumers, snacking and mini meals are overtaking traditional meals with seniors.
"A large majority of ‘new seniors’ in our study expressed that they are looking forward to their retirement years as a time to travel, go back to college, and learn new languages," says Sharon Olson, executive director of Culinary Visions Panel. "Seniors are keen to have access to colleges, museums and restaurants where they can engage in intellectually stimulating activities and enjoy social interaction."
Much like younger consumers, "new seniors" are concerned about the quality and variety of food that they put on their plates. Ninety two percent of seniors currently considering a senior community to live in say they want to live in a place that serves food they could be proud of. Seniors are also attracted to the vibrant food culture of college towns because they want access to a variety of dining options.
"New seniors" or modern seniors are more accustomed to restaurant dining and enjoying cultural experiences. This consumer - an active member of the Baby Boomer generation - tends to be well-educated and well-travelled. The "new senior" appreciates lifelong learning, seeking new experiences and most importantly, having lots of dining and meal options. It is no surprise that there are so many senior living communities being developed near colleges and universities. While satisfying foodservice needs is high on seniors' priority list, finding cultural enrichment adds to the attraction of living near a college town or campus.
Photo by Bill Branson, National Cancer Institute