Does Thanksgiving Day bring fond memories to your food servers?

Beautifully decorated Thanksgiving table with thank you card next to place sitting“As soon as the trees begin to turn into a glorious canvas of autumn colors, I begin to think of Thanksgiving Day. I mean this year’s Thanksgiving Day to come, based on all the previous ones I remember. I love that Day and think it is my favorite holiday of the year because it is all about gathering around the table with friends, family, and a stranger or two, sharing hospitality.”

A  friend said this to me recently reminding me of the learning about hospitality I received at each of my own Thanksgiving Days growing up. I carried that learning into my career when I started in the restaurant industry, where a passion developed for customer service, hospitality, and good food. I continued further by becoming a food service director in a primitive residential camp in a remote area of Alaska. That particular position taught me how people rely on food to bring them a sense of contentment when they are in an unfamiliar setting. That is what elders face when coming into a senior living community new to them and stepping into the dining room those first few times.

Emotion sits at the table along with aroma, appearance, and companionship. When I left the primitive camp position, I fulfilled my youthful dream of owning my own restaurant, and became an operating partner who gained a ton of experience in our two restaurants in Juneau. After leaving the restaurant business and moving to Oregon, I became a dietary manager in a large nursing home. That is where I changed the way I looked at food service, differently, and forever. I was called on to do much more outside my job description, to meet each resident personally, and work on equal footing with all co-workers from all departments. I was committed. A seed planted grew into a large tree that eventually became my Higher Standards version of hospitality to the elder care marketplace. I knew I could make an important difference in communities serving
senior citizens.

I gained much more experience and education in those years. My passion continued to grow.

Kind Dining® curriculum was born using hospitality as the foundation and civility as the tone. Hospitality and civility go hand in hand as a universal language that treats others with kindness, love, and generosity. Kind Dining® is a hands-on training session where I teach that food needs to be served, not just dispensed and where food servers benefit by learning the right skills. It’s best to learn by doing rather than trying to learn by words only.

Our B Kind ® Tip: Remember, happy diners make happy residents who will recommend your
senior living community.

About Cindy Heilman

Cindy Heilman MS, DTR: Cindy Heilman has over 25 years of experience in enhancing hospitality, and food service standards. She is the CEO of her own company, Higher Standards LLC, and creator of Kind Dining® Training. Her unique background in restaurant ownership, in hospitality and healthcare food service, in working as a Dietetic Technician Registered and Healthcare Specialist at SYSCO Foodservices, led her to the development of her exclusive program that improves relationships and lives of aging residents through the dining experience.

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