Majority Rules

Residents’ votes determine menu at CCRC.

A shrimp Caesar salad that has been ground and remolded.

WARMINSTER, Pa.—When Diane Dougherty, assistant foodservice director at Ann’s Choice, a 132-resident CCRC, says the dining operation is resident centered, she means it. For the past four years, residents have helped plan every lunch and dinner menu.

Each Monday residents meet with Dougherty, Chef Lisa Sweeney and Dietitian Meredith Black to plan out the following week’s menu. “We feel residents should have a choice, especially when it comes to the food,” Dougherty says. “That means writing new recipes often.” Dougherty says the number of residents attending the menu planning meetings varies between four and 30. Items are added to the menu only if they receive a majority of the resident vote.

The foodservice team attempts to guide residents in selecting menu items that are healthy and aren’t budget-busters, but Black admits it’s not always successful.

“Residents will have junk food Friday with potato skins, mozzarella sticks and wings,” she says. “They are open to some of the healthier items. We’ve gotten quinoa on the menu.  I have very little weight loss in the building, so the satisfaction with the food is there.”

Dougherty says residents typically don’t ask for pricier items like filet mignon frequently because it takes away from its specialness when that dish is served. Salmon and Yankee pot roast are two resident favorites.

“Being in a corporate environment we’re very structured with recipes and it’s usually a standardized menu,” Sweeney adds. “It’s fun to have a little bit more freedom. It does create a good amount of work with writing and yield testing with the recipes. We have only four cooks for the whole building. It keeps them engaged. As far as food costs go that’s sometimes a struggle.”

Two entrée options are offered for dinner and several everyday options are available for those residents who don’t choose one of the resident-selected specials. The lunch menu is normally a salad or sandwich option.

In addition, there is a ground and puréed option for every entrée. The facility has always had an extensive puréed program, but the mechanical soft ground program is a new venture for the team. All puréed and ground foods are remolded to look like their non-ground or puréed counterparts.

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
hands team

In November, students at University of Missouri in Columbia began leading protests against discrimination faced by people of color on campus—including some marches through the dining halls. Julaine Kiehn, director of the school’s campus dining services, said the 2015-16 school year was a tough one, but she was proud of MU’s students for being at the forefront of a national movement.

And not only did the protests launch important conversations with students, but also with staff. Kiehn heard the protests and thought that her student workers, at least, might not feel safe and welcome...

Ideas and Innovation

When it comes to sustainability, sometimes the smallest kitchen changes can make the biggest difference. When Chris Henning, senior assistant director of dining services for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, switched from standard latex gloves to nitrile gloves, he also set up a recycling program. Once recycled, the gloves are turned into playground equipment, bike racks and park benches.

Henning says the nitrile gloves have been a good fit for his department, both in terms of durability and cost. “Participating in the campus buying program reduces the cost, as [our]...

Ideas and Innovation
elderly old hands

A family’s request for at-home meal support for a patient at Lee Memorial in Fort Myers, Fla., led System Director of Food & Nutrition Services Larry Altier to uncover a gap in care. He saw that only 1% of patients had been coded (diagnosed and labeled for billing purposes) as malnourished, while more than 60% of all Lee Memorial patients are over 65 years or older, a population that experiences the issue at a higher rate.

His discovery helped more rigorously identify malnutrition, but it also strengthened Lee Memorial’s community connection. The hospital launched a delivery...

Ideas and Innovation
nutrition facts label

Despite operators’ attempts to communicate nutrition information to guests via cards and labels on the food line, many guests still feel they have no clue what’s in their food. University of Illinois food economist Brenna Ellison shares a few guesses as to why consumers ignore these signs following a recent study on their placement in dining halls.

Q: Who is most likely to read the cards?

A: Students who were already exhibiting more healthy behaviors. So those were the students who track their intake using an app or a food diary. After the first week, we found the rates of people...

FSD Resources