Is it more than just serving a meal?

In pre-COVID 19 times, the chef would create special socializing events to bring residents together over his food offerings for festive occasions, celebrate memorable holidays, family gatherings, and mark appropriate events for residents. Even though communities are in quarantine, the chef still needs to create special menus, interesting meals, and recipes to wake residents’ palates in the community. Unaware of the average appetite, the chef also needs to prepare tempting meals for vegans, vegetarians, and Kosher foods for some.  Residents with food allergies must be noted, and their particulars kept on file. Although people are not gathering to celebrate around the table together, celebrations must still be honored and infused into planned menus to keep residents’ spirits raised. It is significant to residents who are now separated by necessity in these trying times.

In Kind Dining® training sessions, I encourage the food serving teams in retirement and long term care communities to keep the fire under their passion for always learning innovative new ways to serve meals and care for their residents. The entire team working together to provide good food and good service results from savvy planning and top performance service. Team discussions where everyone’s suggestions and ideas are taken under consideration are important for continued learning. Those who work in food service realize it is more than a job. It is a way of life. It becomes a part of you as subconsciously, you are always looking for a better way that slips into your thoughts; always learning something new.

There is pride in food traditions that outlast pandemics and create warm bonds in relationships with family, friends, and food servers who bring residents’ meals with a few words of comfort or news or any connection from outside their present environment. Celebrations may be held in different ways but are still meaningful and necessary. Chefs must be willing to expand their horizons when seeking information about other cultures to incorporate into their own recipe files. Inspiration often comes from unexpected sources, but their dependence on the food serving team to perform is constant. Team members depend on each other, and all members working in the foodservice department have the same goal in mind. Fulfilling that goal of keeping residents happy with their selections and the quality of meals served to them from the heart comes from drawing on their experience, practice, and satisfaction with their work. It’s loving what you do.

Our B Kind® Tip: Remember your vision to build stronger mealtime relationships.

About Cindy Heilman

Cindy is the founder and owner of Kind Dining®, which she began in 2006. She’s traveled across the country and Canada working with and training senior living communities that want to create an exceptional dining experience for their residents and staff. In addition, she certifies select professionals in her Kind Dining® philosophy and provides tools, now in an eLearning format, that make learning stick and help people put insights into action. As a result of her work, clients often share their staff has a new sense of purpose, get along better and keep their focus and energy on what matters most. In fact, she wrote a book, Hospitality for Boomers on how to attract residents and keep good team members. In her free time, she enjoys walking Oregon trails and cheering on her favorite soccer teams, the Portland Thorns and Timbers.

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