Jennings Center’s personal approach to savings

Published in FSD Update

Michael Mills, foodservice director for the Jennings Center, a nursing home and retirement center in Garfield Heights, Ohio, has found a way to save his department money while satisfying the desires of residents under the facility’s recently adopted person-centered care model.

Mills’ department makes its own gelatin cups, pudding cups and fruit cups.

“We’re always looking at ways to save money,” says Mills, whose department started buying whole sides of beef four or five years ago and cutting its own meat. “We were serving these single-serve packs of Jell-O and pudding, and I’ll be honest, some of them would ‘walk.’”

Another problem was that the single-serve packs usually came in a 4-ounce size, which might be more than a senior wanted to eat, resulting in waste.

“So we thought about it and decided, why don’t we just make our own 2-ounce portions?” he explains. “We bought soufflé cups—mostly 2-ounce cups, although we do some 4-ounce portions. We started with Jell-O and pudding and it worked so well that we went on to Mandarin oranges and fruit cocktail.”

Mills says the new process has cut waste considerably and also helped enhance the person-centered care model.

“All our neighborhoods, which is what we call the units, have refrigerators,” he notes. “We will stock them with the dessert cups and encourage residents and staff to treat this like their homes and to help themselves.”

In addition to doing away with the store-bought dessert cups, Mills’ team also has eliminated PC condiments. Instead, staff help residents open bottled toppings like ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise or syrup during mealtimes.

“We found it was too hard for many of our residents to open these packs, and so staff was spending too much time going around helping them,” Mills says. “This new way is more personal, and we’ve gotten great feedback on this, especially from family members.”