When people move to a senior living community, sometimes they worry: will I still get to enjoy my favorite meals? Thanks to our dining services team, the answer is yes!
For a couple of years, residents at Rolla Presbyterian Manor have been invited to submit recipes they would like to see on our dining room menus. For the spring and summer menu cycle, the No. 1 favorite was a taco lasagna recipe, submitted by a health care resident, followed by an independent living resident’s version of shrimp Creole. Carmen Payne, director of dining services, said another resident recipe for “trees and raisins” — a broccoli salad – got so many requests that it’s now offered on menus throughout the year.
Serving up and sharing favorite dishes adds to the sense of community, Carmen said, especially because residents spend more time in the dining or more per meal, three times a day.
“We find our residents have their own tastes, so we try to include them in how we do things,” Carmen said. “I know they’re very proud when they see the food come out from their recipes and people are ordering it. They have ownership.”
Carmen and her staff use the resident-submitted dishes to supplement the menus they receive from Health Technologies, which provides dining and nutrition services for health care communities. Then, these are prepared and served by the 18-member dining services staff. Over the course of an average day, there are three cooks in the kitchen – one for breakfast and lunch, one for lunch and dinner, and one baker. Two or three people staff each dining room.
The staff tries to watch for trends among popular dishes, then offer those items more. “I think that Presbyterian Manor puts more effort into their meals,” Carmen said. “Our organization gives them a little more choice and freedom.”
Residents have been asked to give the dining staff ideas for a meat or entrée and two side dishes. Once a year, Carmen also asks residents for their input on which menu items to keep or discard.
Some of the replies are surprising. Carmen said one resident wrote “roasted duck” on his survey, half joking. The dining staff surprised him right back.
“It blew my budget, but we did it. For one meal, we had roasted duck, and he was just awestruck,” she said. “That’s where you show that you listen and you care.”