Nina Dubman: Change Maker

Positive labor impact: Staff retention is about 98%, with only one opening in the past three years, she reports. "Without turnover, my staff is well-trained and can learn how to make good food from scratch using quality ingredients."

In reality, bringing all of Dubman's 12 employees—including full- and part-timers—up to speed in the shift to new menus and recipes has taken a lot of time, patience and numerous food production meetings.

"Throughout the whole four-week cycle—previously we ran a five-week cycle—we met for a few minutes every day to explain the recipes," she recalls. "The most difficult part was teaching them to measure ingredients using the metric system. Now, they're used to it and understand it. It's all part of my being visible and readily accessible. You're there to in-service—and you can't in-service your employees enough."

Dubman attributes the lack of turnover to listening to employees both during scheduled meetings and on a regular, day-to-day basis. "If they have issues, they're not leaving because we discuss them and try to solve any problems. They know I'll help them and make their job easier," she says.

Dubman's philosophy of being visible and available is much the same when applied to residents.

"Complaints—and I get very few food-related complaints—decrease if you're visible," she asserts. "We have some people who are visually handicapped and they'll sometimes complain they did not get what they wanted until you point it out to them. There are other residents you'll never satisfy because they don't want to be here anyway. But you keep on trying to make them feel they're part of the facility."

Increasing choices: In the restaurant-style dining room, complete with uniformed waiter and waitress service, the menu items of the day are verbally presented. Previously, there was one item plus an alternate based on food preferences. Now, there's a main entree, an alternate and four substitutions for a total of six choices. Alternate selections generally need only easy prep and include such fare as hamburgers, grilled cheese, cottage cheese and fruit.

When Dubman first arrived at Resthaven, she introduced the Meal of the Month concept, a true resident pleaser. "Members of the Residents' Council Food Committee write the menu which is usually served at dinner as a special," she explains. "It might be chicken fingers, fried shrimp or perhaps short ribs, along with various sides and homemade muffins. Committee members meet once a month which lets residents feel they have a say. We try to listen to them since this is their home."

As residents enjoy their new menus—such as oven fried chicken with vegetable and potato, or Southern-style barbequed chicken breast with cornbread; broccoli, tomato/mozzarella salad; and homemade strawberry brownies—a certified nursing assistant (CNA) circulates in the dining room and is responsible for checking the plate of each resident following each meal. If someone isn't eating well, it's reported to Dubman and a three-day calorie count is conducted.

Fond memories: Dubman has a particularly warm place in her heart for these CNAs since she fondly remembers her first job as a CNA when she was a high school student and worked with the elderly. At that point, she decided to become a nurse, but a part-time job in campus foodservice (while working her way though college) proved so enjoyable, she switched her major to foodservice management and dietetics—and never looked back.

Most recently, Dubman has been on a tireless campaign to revitalize the Chicago Midwest chapter of the American Society of Healthcare Foodservice Administrators (ASHFSA) in order to help her healthcare cohorts remain at the top of their professional form. As a board member for the past eight years and Chicago chapter chairperson since 2000, she's taken the lead in rebuilding the membership (it's now at 60), phoning people to come to meetings and convincing suppliers to underwrite the appearance of key speakers.

This year, Dubman received ASHFSA's 2004 Chapter Leadership Award for dedicated service to the revitalization of the Chicago Chapter.

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
usa map regions

From global flavors to clean labels, it’s clear that some buzzworthy noncommercial menu trends are universal. But FoodService Director ’s 2016 surveys have revealed some noteworthy differences within segments in the Northeast, South, Midwest and West regions. We combed through data from our College and University Census, Hospital Census and Long-Term Care/Senior Living Census for the most surprising variations in menu trends and expectations.

1. Plant-based dishes are on the rise at Midwestern colleges and universities

Seventy-seven percent of C&U operators in this region say...

Industry News & Opinion

Ithaca College is turning to new solutions to address overcrowding at a dining hall that is already understaffed, The Ithacan reports .

The Ithaca, N.Y., school's Terrace Dining Hall has seen a large influx of students this year after being renovated, causing lines to wrap around the dining hall.

To ease congestion, Sodexo Area General Manager Jeffrey Scott told The Ithacan that the eatery has added a separate entree line, as well as signage displaying menu items at less-crowded food stations in an effort to draw students to the other side of the dining hall.

The...

Menu Development
mac cheese pizza

Anybody think the popularity of mac and cheese has played out? Anyone?

More likely, foodservice directors are trying to bake new life into the comfort staple by tweaking the presentation and components. Here’s a snapshot of how that rejuvenation effort looks in streetside restaurants.

Industry News & Opinion

Noncommercial foodservice operations and other employers would be spared from costly new overtime pay regulations if 21 states succeed in the legal challenge they jointly filed yesterday.

The lawsuit asks the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to set aside the rules, which are scheduled to take effect on Dec. 1.

If the court rejects the request, restaurants and other businesses will be required after that date to pay overtime to any salaried employee who works more than 40 hours in a week and earns less than $47,476 on an annual basis.

The...

FSD Resources