JENKINS TWP. — Benco Dental employees who take lunch off-campus eat up half their break driving to get there.

If they want food from restaurants on Route 315 just outside CenterPoint East, they idle among the perpetual train of tractor-trailers leaving and entering the business park.

Nine years ago, when Benco built its new headquarters, leaders polled staff about what they wanted most.

“At the top of the list was a full-service kitchen. We didn’t have that in our prior building,” said George Rable, vice president of culture and people.

Cafeterias give staff a place to get away from work without leaving work.

Benco is now renovating its cafeteria to add more seating and multiuse spaces where staff can gather. When the conference rooms are booked, employees can reserve special meeting areas in the cafeteria, where the walls are giant white boards.

About half of the 400 staff members in the Jenkins Twp. home office buy lunch in Kitty’s Kitchen on any given day, Rable said. It’s named in honor of founder Benjamin Cohen’s wife.

The cafeteria offers free coffee all morning, breakfast and a broad lunch menu including pizza, a made-to-order deli and a salad bar, among other things.

For other companies, cafeterias aren’t just a convenience to improve morale, they’re essential.

Tobyhanna Army Depot has two full-service cafeterias and one open in the morning that sells coffee, bagels and snacks.

A peninsula of industry mostly surrounded by state forests in Coolbaugh Twp., the military installation has 3,800 employees and anywhere from 100 to 200 visitors on any given day, said spokeswoman Kristyn Smith.

Soldiers visit the depot regularly for training, and many use dining services, she said.

“Unfortunately, there aren’t as many restaurants that you would have if you were located downtown, so having that here … is something a majority of our employees take advantage of,” Smith said.

This month Geisinger beefed up its dining services with an experiment to give employees and the public fresh-grilled food at its Community Medical Center campus off Mulberry Street in Scranton.

In a cozy alcove tucked beside the hospital’s office building, steam billowed from the grill where Geisinger Executive Chef Matt Cervay prepared Korean tacos and a Mexican street corn recipe called elote with chicken for the program’s inaugural day.

Weather permitting, the summer grill-out will continue weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Labor Day. Tickets cost $6 and include the entree, a side salad or slice of watermelon and a bottle of water.

“We just wanted to do this, have a gathering place where employees can come out with their friends and have a fresh, cooked-on-the-grill meal,” said Kimberly Marshalek, a food service supervisor at the hospital.

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