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

Sponsored Content
Mrs. T’s pierogies

From Mrs. T’s Foodservice.

Today’s college and university students demand customization, but they also seek out creative riffs on familiar dishes, making comfort food an area of opportunity for college & university operators.

This is especially true as more restaurants across all sectors add comfort-food favorites such as meatloaf, potato tots and loaded fries to menus.

Operators are already starting to see how a comforting, customizable ingredient such as pierogies meets those needs: Menu mentions of pierogies as an entree are up 9.3% over the last two years,...

Sponsored Content
local produce

From WinCup.

Today’s students care deeply about sustainability—much more so than the general population. For them, sustainable practices are visit drivers. What’s more, some 57% of students are willing to pay more for sustainable foods, according to Technomic’s recent College & University Consumer Trend Report . Sustainable claims drive visits, especially for young consumers: Some 31% of Gen Zers say they’re more likely to visit restaurants that try to be sustainable.

Students are looking for foodservice operations with comprehensive sustainability programs, and...

Industry News & Opinion

Mayfield High School in Mayfield, Ohio, has opened a coffee cart in its cafeteria, The News-Herald reports .

Open throughout the day, the cart sells 12-ounce cups of coffee for $2 each. Students were able to taste-test some of the offerings and were also involved in choosing the cart’s name.

The drinks are made with low-fat milk and unsweetened flavor syrups, and soy milk is on hand for those with allergies. To encourage more breakfast participation, the school gives students 50 percent off coffee when they also buy a breakfast item. Additionally, the cart is stationed next...

Sponsored Content
boston college acai bowl

From Dannon Foodservice.

Catering to the go-go-go lifestyle of university students is a challenge, and it’s one that Boston College dining representatives wrestle with daily.

“Students don’t just want to eat dinner between 5 and 7 p.m.,” says Beth Emery, the school’s director of dining. “They may want to eat dinner at 9 o’clock. We’ve been trying to come up with creative solutions.”

Those creative solutions include everything from offering breakfast items throughout the day to providing healthier late-night choices to trolling social media for trendy new menu ideas...

FSD Resources