CDM of the Month

TimothySchoonmaker, CDM, CFPP

Name: Timothy Schoonmaker, CDM, CFPP

Job Title: System Director, Nutrition Services

Employer: Centra Health

Job Location: Lynchburg, Virginia

Years at Current Facility: 1

Years in Current Position: 1 (was with Sodexo for 15 years prior to here, as an Executive Chef, General Manager, Senior Area General Manager in Hospitals and nursing homes)

CDM Since: June 2017

Why did you decide to become a CDM, CFPP?

I have spent the past 16 years in hospital food service, 15 of those with a contractor. I decided to pursue the CDM credential due to the scope of my position, as Centra Health covers long-term care, assisted living, skilled care, acute care, and home health. I have 3 CDMs that work for me, with a 4th one coming on board in the next year. It allows us to provide well-rounded care for all our patients and residents.

What are your main responsibilities in your current position?

I am responsible for the foodservice operations for Centra Health inpatient and post-acute care facilities, including off-site facilities (office and medical buildings) as well as the food truck.

How do you organize your time at work to make sure you accomplish all your responsibilities?

I have several calendars and an organizer that I keep with me always, and work flex scheduling that includes nights and weekends to ensure that all goals are being met and that I am spending my time where needed.

What is an example of an innovative way you have made change at your facility and how did you implement it?

I joined this organization at a time of rapid growth. As a Chef and foodservice professional, I can use my experience and skills to improve and innovate foodservice. One of these ideas was use of the food truck. When I started, there was no one running the truck and it was sidelined. I quickly worked with my management team to get the truck up and running and hire a coordinator, and started to rebuild the business. As Centra grew (opening new facilities), the truck went with it. Our open houses included food from the truck. We went as far as 100 miles from here just to get the word out. We mold the truck to be whatever it is needed to be, and have grown the business 200% in a year.

What was your first job in the foodservice industry?

Washing dishes at 12 years old in a greasy spoon restaurant in upstate NY (I did not look 12 years old and back then no one ever bothered to ask).

Who has been your biggest mentor in foodservice and how have they helped shape your career?

Back in 1995, I had a high school teacher that taught me to be whatever I wanted to be, and that life is only what you make of it. Watching chefs on TV and working around food, I learned that creativity and willingness to learn was key. He helped mentor me to be what I am today - to never stop learning, and never stop growing, and never set your goals too high - push through and when you succeed, push some more.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your position and how do you handle them?

Staffing. We are dealing with limited skilled labor, limited availability, and limited FTEs in a growing system. We take it one day at a time, ensuring our customers are taken care of. That is the best way to handle our challenge. I also have a personal issue of not being able to say “no.” This often means being stretched to the max at times.

What is your favorite part of your job?

People - I love people. I love being able to “wow” them with food and teaching my foodservice knowledge to others. I mentor with Big Brothers/Big Sisters and love being able to teach my little about food. I also love when people come up and tell me that I was able to teach them something which has made an impact on their life.

How do you stay up to date with current innovations and trends?

Read, read, and read some more! Any and all publications - take 10 minutes a day to read.

How do you envision the foodservice industry in the next few years and foodservice?

Everything app-related and centralized. Even our grocery stores are online - you don’t even need to look for groceries anymore. As our generations change, our trends are changing. Pre-prepped and pre-planned meals for the week, kiosk ordering and front door delivery, more local foods (farm to table), and focus on fusion cuisine. This is important for us in commercial foodservice, as we look at how to cure diseases with food and help people live healthy without them actually having to do anything, such as shop or cook.

What is your advice to those just getting started in the foodservice industry?

Take advantage of all learning opportunities you have. Read, research, and volunteer. Go out to eat. Spend hours in grocery stores. Travel and see how other people eat, shop, and work in different parts of the country.