Pleasant surprises

Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. steps up to the plate.

Earlier this month, I drove up to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., to sit in on one of the sessions of the Culinary Enrichment and Innovation Program. The topic was wellness, and when I arrived the chefs were in the kitchen creating some healthy dishes for lunch.

As they wrapped up their morning session, I took the opportunity to visit with Jay Blotcher, who handles public relations for the CIA’s continuing education programs. It turned out to be a fortuitous meeting, for I learned about two programs that point up the CIA’s growing commitment to the non-commercial foodservice industry.

The first was a three-day conference scheduled for next month in San Antonio. Called Healthy Flavors, Healthy Kids, the conference will bring together about 100 school foodservice directors to learn how to make school meals healthier and to share what it is they need from the industry to ensure success.

We will be reporting from the conference, so look for our updates on Twitter and our website as the seminar unfolds.

The second item was the fact that CIA has created a class for students in its bachelor’s program to learn more about hospital foodservice. Called Foodservice Management in Healthcare, the class is being taught by Lynne Eddy, R.D., an old friend I met when she was the director of food and nutrition services at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

According to the course syllabus, “emphasis will be placed on analyzing the operations of several foodservice departments, identifying and measuring patient-customer satisfaction, defining clinical nutrition care management, comparing food delivery systems and identifying trends in healthcare reform and legislation.”

The class includes field trips to Elant Retirement Center, in Goshen, N.Y., Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

According to Blotcher, the class is set up to accommodate 20 students, and there were five who signed up for the first session, which began last December. When the second session began, last month, 25 students had registered.

Eddy is excited about her role as educator.

“The students have learned a lot about a market segment they might be have been familiar with, and we’ve already seen ways in which they can contribute to healthcare,” she told me. “For example, when students were on one of the field trips they were talking with staff about pureed diets, and one of the staff said they were having problems with finding the right thickener. One of the students said, ‘Have you tried arrowroot?’ The dietitian didn’t know what arrowroot was. So here was a case where the students were able to share some of their knowledge.”

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