Five Questions for: Amy Milenberg

FoodService Director - Five Questions for Amy MilenbergA couple of years ago the Veterans Affairs healthcare system's nutrition and food services department began remaking its programs to better serve patients. One of the areas where the biggest transformations have taken place is in the community living centers, formerly called nursing homes. FSD talked with Amy Milenberg, patient food operations manager at the William Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, S.C., to find out about the culture changes taking place at her facility.

You, along with many other VA facilities, are making significant changes with the foodservice operation at the community living centers. Tell me about these cultural changes.

The changes are intended to make living at a community living center a more home-like experience. When you are at home, you choose what you want to eat, when you want to eat and where you want to eat. The changes that are being implemented take these things into consideration. Flexible meal times, flexible choices, food availability, input into menu planning, special meals with family members and special holiday meals are just some of the changes.

Why are you making these changes?

VA nutrition and food services is committed to providing our veterans an enriched dining experience. These changes further our commitment to providing exceptional service.

One of the changes at your facility is the Dinner for 8 Program. How does that program works?

The Dinner for 8 Program is held monthly and designed for 8 people who reside within our community living centers (CLC). The program provides a smaller, relaxed, more home-like dining experience. Residents of the CLC sign up to attend in a reservation book. The first resident to sign up suggests the meal for the evening. Residents are welcome to invite guests within the limit of the 8 participants. The meal is prepared according to what was suggested and is served in a separate dining area. The residents sit around a table together as they dine, like they would if they were at home.
 
Another new program is the FAC (Friday Afternoon Club). What does that program entail?

Friday Afternoon Club is another monthly program held within our CLC. This program introduced our Therapeutic Libation Policy, which allows our residents to have alcohol. Residents may have an alcoholic beverage of their choosing, with an MD order, during the event. We also serve a special meal.

One of the components to these culture changes is creating a more social atmosphere among the patients and also between the patients and the foodservice staff. Why is this social aspect so important?

Increasing the social interaction, personalizing care and developing relationships between staff and the residents can improve the quality of life. That's what our jobs are all about.

To read more about the changes taking place in the VA system's nutrition and food services department, read the cover story in the September issue.
 

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
coffee shop trailor graphic

A familiar face is coming to the roads of Rutgers University this fall: the Starbucks mermaid. The New Brunswick, N.J.-based school is testing a Starbucks truck throughout the upcoming semester, NJ.com reports . The company began testing trucks on college campuses in 2014, and now has mobile locations at Arizona State University, James Madison University in Virginia, East Carolina University in North Carolina and Sacramento State in California.

The trucks will serve the full lineup of Starbucks beverages that’s available at the outlet’s brick-and-mortar location at Rutgers,...

Industry News & Opinion

A study from Virginia Tech has found a connection between school meal participation and obesity in students. From data that predates the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act , the findings raise questions over whether nutrition standards go far enough.

The research evaluated data from 1998 to 2007, comparing first through eighth grade students who partook in free and reduced-price lunch and those who qualified but opted out. Wen You, associate professor in the Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics at Virginia Tech, says she expected to validate theories that increased breakfast...

Industry News & Opinion

Buffalo Public Schools is turning to local chefs and a little competition to help create new menu items, the Buffalo News reports .

In October, local chefs will compete against each other and a team of seven to 10 students led by chef Bobby Anderson, a former contestant on “Hell’s Kitchen,” to create lunch recipes that comply with USDA nutritional requirements and use seasonal produce sourced locally.

“This Chef Challenge is another way to engage our youth in a fun, friendly competition with local area chefs who can help create appealing recipes that will be incorporated...

Industry News & Opinion

After being sued by the Services Employees International Union over its decision to change vendors from Sodexo to Morrison, the foodservice arm at Mayo Clinic continues to face backlash from staff.

Foodservice employees at the Rochester, Minn., hospital last week handed over a petition 1,200 signatures deep asking that they remain with their current employer, Fox 9 reports .

While a Mayo Clinic spokesperson said that staff will be given similar positions and pay rates under Morrison, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota—the union representing much of the hospital’s foodservice staff—...

FSD Resources