Personal Touch Food Service: At the Forefront of Supporting Better Health and Well-being in the Community

Since 1985 Personal Touch Food Service (Personal Touch), a food service management contractor, has provided customers with the highest quality products, while also helping local institutions grow and succeed. The Buffalo, N.Y.-based company serves public and private schools, colleges, residential facilities and businesses across western New York.

Personal Touch’s passion is a commitment to healthy, nutritionally balanced meals and tailoring its services to clients’ needs. The company operates out of the respective client’s facility and works with institutions to provide management, consultation, staffing, menus, food preparation and cleanup – completing every step of the process with personalized solutions.

Incorporated and founded by Jim McHugh, Personal Touch has offered customized food service for over 27 years. In April 2012 McHugh passed away, and the family entrusted the business to his longtime friend and co-worker.

“I transitioned to my current position in January 2012,” recalls Dave Cervi, president of Personal Touch. “It was difficult losing such a good friend and business partner. I had been working with Jim prior to the inception of the company.”

What started as a small operation with 20 employees has grown to a highly capable team of over 600. Personal Touch is now able to serve seven counties in western New York; however, according to Cervi, the company may reach a larger area in the near future. “We’re looking to go outside of these boundaries, if the opportunity presents itself,” explains Cervi. “We hope to reach farther east in New York and northwestern Pennsylvania.

While remaining local, the company’s goal is to provide quality food service that fits clients’ needs. Personal Touch is increasingly more active in not only providing food service, but also healthy living education and sustainable menu options.

Bringing More to the Table

Personal Touch believes living healthy is about balance between nutritional meals and an active lifestyle. The company provides a wellness board with information regarding menus in order to better inform customers about what they’re consuming.

Personal Touch is also doing its part to implement greener food service practices. “We’re very conscious of making sure our footprint is as small as it can be by creating farm-to-table menus, and supporting client-based green initiatives,” shares Cervi.

The company sources local products and highlights these seasonal ingredients in its menus, along with reducing the amount of processed foods, increasing the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables and bumping up nutrient values without sacrificing taste or quality.

Along with a variety of locally sourced products and healthy menus, Personal Touch is making great strides revamping the food it serves to one of its largest client bases: public schools. New USDA regulations for lunches in public schools have presented a new challenge, and the team at Personal Touch is willing and equipped to accept.

“We’ve completely changed our menus and trained our staff so we are prepared to meet these regulations,” shares Cervi. “We’ve increased the amount of whole grains to upward of 50 percent, added a larger quantity of fruits and veggies and implemented minimum and maximum portion controls.” The goal is to reduce childhood obesity and introduce children to healthy food trends.

Caring About Customers and the Community

Remaining local has allowed Personal Touch to personalize its services. “As a local food service operator, our biggest advantage is how we customize our food service to uniquely fit clients’ needs,” shares Cervi. “We listen to what they want, and there’s always more than one way to do things.”

The ability to tailor-fit services is why many clients have remained with Personal Touch since its founding. “We have three clients that have been with us for the past 27 years,” details Cervi.

What sets Personal Touch apart from its competition is the way the team listens to clients and customizes services to individual needs. “Our response time and sense of urgency has always, and will always be a hallmark of who we are,” stresses Cervi. “We are always there for our clients in whatever capacity is needed. It doesn’t take days or weeks; it’s a matter of picking up the phone and we’re there.”

Personal Touch is also involved in many nonprofit community events and organizations. “Many of our clients are nonprofit institutions,” explains Cervi. “We get involved however we can.” Personal Touch also provides food service to a summer camp for special needs and disadvantaged children. In addition, the company annually hosts Sunshine Day, a carnival for such children involving games, plenty of food and a petting zoo.

Although Personal Touch has grown significantly over the past 27 years, the original concept remains the same. “What has remained constant is our attention to detail and personal touch with each client.” Losing McHugh was hard for everyone at Personal Touch, but Cervi is confident in Personal Touch’s future. “I believe in the company’s strength because of our people and the partnerships we have formed,” he details. The team at Personal Touch Food Service is continuing forward and ensuring McHugh’s legacy lives on.