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

Industry News & Opinion

University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., has replaced a fajita bar in one of its dining halls with a superfoods bar, Tommie Media reports.

Aiming to provide more options for athletes and students with dietary restrictions, the new bar offers diners a choice of protein with a variety of toppings, such as beans, fruit, couscous and quinoa.

The superfoods bar has made a few appearances on campus since it was first tried for the school’s football players last summer.

“Word of mouth is getting out, and every day I get a few more people,” Ryan Carlson, a cook at the...

Sponsored Content
gluten free diet

From Stouffer’s.

A large part of menuing allergen-friendly cuisine is deciding which gluten-free items to serve.

In particular, college dining hall operators must decide whether to make gluten-free items in-house or to order gluten-free items from a manufacturer. Some factors to consider are: the size of the university, the demand for gluten-free options,and the ability to have separate gluten-free storage and workspaces in the university dining hall kitchen.

According to FoodService Director , 77% of college and university operators purchase their gluten-free...

Industry News & Opinion

Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pa., is using robots to help deliver patient meals, BCTV reports.

The eight robots, named TUGs, will be used to transport meals from the hospital’s nutrition services department to patient floors at Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical & Patient Care.

Moving at three miles per hour, the robots will follow preprogrammed routes to the HealthPlex, where room ambassadors will remove room service carts from the TUGs and deliver them to patients. The TUGs will then return to nutrition services with dirty dishes for cleaning.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo has partnered with fast casual Blaze Pizza to offer the chain’s signature pizzas, salads, beverages and desserts at select venues served by Sodexo, including colleges and universities.

Bill Lacey, senior vice president of marketing at Sodexo, said that Blaze’s growth in the fast-casual sector drove the partnership. Blaze opened its first unit in 2012 near the University of California at Irvine. Its pizzas are flash fired, cooking in under 180 seconds, according to the chain—a selling point for busy customers.

FSD Resources