Buy local and fresh always. That’s the motto Claridge Court’s director of dining services Jamie McCarthy lives by. He, along with the community of residents, have jumped on the farm to fork craze, and it’s changing their lives for the better.
Two years ago McCarthy took a group of residents on a field trip to a local farm to learn more about the produce grown in Kansas. “It was eye-opening for everyone to see how the process of growing fruits and vegetables actually takes place,” McCarthy said. “That’s when we starting thinking about goals for the future and our food.”
McCarthy began buying all local and natural foods. When produce is out of season in the state, that means it’s no longer on the menu at Claridge Court.
“There’s no watermelon on the menu during winter, since it’s not grown during that time of the year here in Kansas,” McCarthy said. “During the winter we (America) get watermelon from South America. It’s picked when it’s still green, so by the time it gets on your plate in America, there’s no nutritional value in it.”
Since that first trip, the community members has gone on at least a half a dozen other trips to local farms to learn about local produce and meat.
“We’re here to educate and enlighten the residents,” he said.
The community now has an eight-week rotation for all their food. This means residents don’t have to eat the same meal twice for at least 8 weeks.
McCarthy – who’s now worked at Claridge Court for 7 years – says he’s always encouraging his cooks and chefs to mingle with the residents and ask them what they want during their dining experience and what foods they’d like to try.
“It’s all about what the customers want,” he says. “In our case, our customers want to eat healthier, and we’re helping them with that.”