For Marvon Pierce

GenCare Lifestyle develops gluten-free dining program for residents.

Through its Whole Life Dining program and the recent addition of gluten-free menu items, GenCare Lifestyle, a senior living company based in Seattle, is changing the way it approaches food in its six communities. FSD talked with Marvon Pierce, corporate director of culinary services, about the company’s food philosophy.

Q. What is Whole Life Dining?

A lot of retirement homes use a lot of processed, premade items, which are loaded with salt. In our Whole Life program we make pretty much everything from scratch. We are using fresh, whole and organic foods. Our goal is to keep striving for healthier things. Before the Whole Life program, we offered typical retirement food. We used a lot of premade products and used a lot of canned goods. Now we focus on various parts of diets. For example, the next thing I am looking toward is IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) because a lot of people are affected by it. We want to educate people on IBS, the foods that can irritate it and foods that can keep it under control or minimize it.

We’ve done studies to test our residents to see how their health has improved during the past four or five years. The normal stay of a resident in communities like this is between one and three years. Our residents are staying anywhere between five and six years. They stay longer because they are healthier.

Q. Why did you start offering gluten-free meals?

A lady named Cynthia Kupper, who is with the Gluten Intolerance Group, came to different functions we had in our communities. She told us about how many people have celiac disease or gluten intolerance. From there it took off. We decided that this would be something great and something that other communities weren’t doing.

Sometimes when residents come in to tour the community they ask about [gluten-free options] and we would turn them down because we weren’t offering gluten free.

Q. Are you making the gluten-free items in house?

A lot of it we make ourselves. Things like bread and cake mixes we buy from a company. Because we make all of our foods from scratch, a lot of the items we have on our menus are already gluten free, so it’s just a matter of safe practices. We are developing some gluten-free recipes. We have a special of the day and we focus on something new. Now we’re starting to make gluten-free specials.

Q. What operational changes have you made to accommodate the gluten-free items?

We want to make sure that when we’re making a gluten-free sandwich that we are keeping it away from anything that has gluten. You have to use separate cutting boards and utensils. You can’t store regular bread over your plates or cups because the smallest crumb can poison someone with gluten. So we’ve changed some of the techniques we use in the kitchen, as well as storage. Anything that is gluten free, we store above anything that has gluten. It’s like with raw meats; you store raw meats on the bottom shelf and cooked meats above.

Q. How many residents follow a gluten-free diet?

We have about five or six people. We have one building that is certified gluten free by the Gluten Intolerance Group. To become certified gluten free, you have to document all products and changes in brands to ensure they are gluten free, make gluten-free items from scratch and denote menu items that are gluten free.We hope we will bring in a whole new crowd that is gluten free. We are getting a lot of calls about it.

 

 

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
Mushroom Council blended burgers

From The James Beard Foundation.

At the same time the James Beard Foundation announced the first annual Blended Burger Project™ Campus Edition, they concluded the third annual Blended Burger Project™ with a bang!

The Blended Burger Project™ contest concluded with 414 restaurants* in 45 states participating, and more than 400,000 consumer votes. Over the last nine weeks, the competition created a buzz on social media with more than 4,700 unique posts on Instagram and Twitter using the #BlendedBurgerProject hashtag.

“The Blended Burger Project™ is a phenomenal...

Ideas and Innovation
moving boxes

Because we have 39 locations throughout the state, employees are offered a transfer if they’re planning a move. They’re rehired by the company, but there’s no additional training needed and employees are ready to go on Day 1.

Ideas and Innovation
staff pack

To keep staff motivated, we locked them in a room together. As part of a midsemester training session, we formed work groups and sent them to a local Escape Room to see which team could play the game together most effectively and escape first. Not only was this training a great team-building experience, but it supported a local new business and gave our staff a memorable experience.

Ideas and Innovation
star employee

Senior leadership meets twice a year to do organizational talent planning for every position from the top down. We talk about who are the potential high-performers, and go through how they can grow. People are your differentiator—you need to take care of your assets, and your assets are your human resources.

FSD Resources