A simple request from a prospective resident has led to Grandview Terrace, a senior living center in Sun City, Ariz., to become the first CCRC in the state to be certified gluten-free by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA). The certification was granted after Grandview Terrace spent more than $12,000 in kitchen upgrades and staff training in order to meet the requirements of the NFCA program.
“The process of creating and serving a gluten-free menu was no small undertaking,” says Director of Dining Service Terry Wallace. “It required us to change the way we do things, but the end result and being able to better serve our residents is most certainly worth the effort.”
After a prospective resident mentioned during a tour that she had celiac disease, Wallace and Executive Chef Ron Mendyka met with Bhakti Gosalia, Grandview Terrace’s executive director, to discuss the issue. The team decided that the potential benefits of being able to attract new residents made the effort worth the cost.
Grandview Terrace began by renovating a portion of the kitchen to become a gluten-free prep space, and specific equipment dedicated to gluten-free food prep was purchased. Then, the 14-person dining staff underwent five months of training with the NFCA to become certified. Staff were taught the risks of cross-contamination while learning best practices for gluten-free worker hygiene, food handling, preparation and storage. Wallace and Mendyka also began to create new gluten-free menu items; so far, about 150 items have been added to the recipe base.
Wallace adds that the initial upshot of the move was that the prospective resident has moved in and other residents have expressed an interest in the program. This spring, Grandview Terrace marketed its new gluten-free program by inviting the public to a luncheon.