For residents at Lifespace Communities, sitting down for a good meal is not just about savory food, rich-flavored iced tea and a glass of fine wine. It is more about the experience that brings the food to life – the conversations, the service, and learning more about the food that makes the dining experience special.
“Two years ago, we made a commitment to evolve the dining experience at all 12 Lifespace communities,” said Amy LaCroix, regional operations director at Lifespace. “While thoroughly evaluating our culinary standards, we understood the importance of actively listening to feedback from residents and team members. We were able to provide valuable insights to our partner and culinary expert, Thomas Cuisine Management, who helped us build a strategy and execute changes to our service.”
Advanced training requirements and diversified menu offerings were implemented to create more meaningful engagements at the dinner table. And to measure the progress, Lifespace is currently conducting resident pulse surveys. Since working through some initial challenges, early response from residents indicates this purposeful initiative is beginning to make a difference.
Recently, the Culinary Services Departments at Village on the Green and Deerfield communities received “Excellence in Operations” awards at Thomas Cuisine Management’s 2017 Awards Banquet. Perfect compliance scores for culinary training and food safety standards were achieved at both communities, as well as flawless evaluation reports from each state’s Food Safety Inspection Bureaus. Both communities were recognized for “living and breathing real foods, delivering genuine service, and building enduring relationships.”
Deerfield resident Judi Burch is at the forefront of some of the culinary upgrades that have recently been implemented at the community. As a member of the Dining Services Resident Committee, Judi helps spearhead changes within the dining program based on feedback she receives from her fellow residents.
“The Culinary Services team works hard to make sure there is something for everyone on the menu and they’re very open to new suggestions,” said Judi. “As a nurse, nutrition is very important to me and I absolutely love the variety, freshness, presentation and color. There is nothing better than enjoying a five-star meal every day.”
One of the essential ingredients of any experience, including culinary, at Lifespace communities is resident engagement. To support this cultural initiative, Lifespace will begin introducing culinary educational sessions where residents witness live cooking sessions alongside chefs to obtain a deeper understanding of the food they prepare and eat. Also, Lifespace is exploring how to further incorporate into its recipes and menu options the fresh fruit and vegetables from the resident-maintained community gardens.
“We do not view delivering quality food as merely a necessity of life,” said Amy. “We also believe it must add vitality to life. When we create smiles and memories at the dinner table, we are doing something right.”
(In the photo: Village on the Green culinary team receives the Excellence in Operations award. Pictured from left to right are George Bockleslaugh, Tammy Makinen and Tom Papp.)
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