Why did you decide to become a CDM?
My first job was as a dietary aide in a long-term care facility when I was in high school. I kept that job part-time all through college and never wanted to leave. I enjoyed working in the kitchen and had an interest in management. I decided it was the next step for me.
What are your main responsibilities in your current position?
I have a wide variety of responsibilities in my current position. I am the head of the dietary department as well as the Registered Dietitian for the facility which houses 72 long-term residents, 22 short-term rehab beds, 34 assisted living apartments, and an adult day care program. I write all of our menus, complete nutrition assessments for all residents, and attend all care conferences. I am also in charge of our deli and catering business.
What is an example of an innovative way you have made change at your facility and how did you implement it?
Oak Hills has been a leader in long-term care innovation over the last 10 years and I am so proud to have been a part of it. We have gone through a major physical renovation as well as a change in structure to provide resident-centered care. I was involved in many of those changes such as initiating open breakfast, alternative menu options, fine dining meals, and much more. One major project that I initiated was the startup of our deli and catering service. It started out very small, just making daily meals for a local day care center, and, in four years, has blossomed to become a major competitor in the area for caterers. We have become well-known within our community, providing everything from boxed lunches for business meetings, all the way up to 400 guest weddings.
What was your first job in the foodservice industry?
As I mentioned above, I started as a dietary aide in a long-term care facility. I have always loved working with the elderly and have had a passion for cooking.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your position and how do you handle them?
Working with a wide variety of staff can be both challenging and rewarding at the same time. This is a difficult field to work in - it is not an easy job and can be physically and emotionally demanding and we are not able to compensate staff for the hard work that they do. Finding hard-working staff with big hearts is not always easy. We are fortunate to have a great team here at Oak Hills and continue to strive for growth.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I enjoy spending time with the residents, hearing about their past, and really getting to know them. I also love the team that I work with. My boss is amazing and my kitchen girls (and guy) are fabulous! They are always willing to go the extra mile to get the job done.
How do you stay up to date with current innovations and trends?
I am involved in several groups, receive e-mail notifications, and attend inservices and meetings. ANFP has been instrumental in my growth as a manager through meetings and just networking with so many amazing managers throughout the state of Minnesota. My foodservice vendor, Martin Bros, also provides monthly webinars and offers many services to keep us on top of up and coming trends in foodservice.
How do you envision the food service industry in the next few years and foodservice?
The foodservice industry continues to change and grow. The major things that I see being the biggest ‘hurdles’ are allergies, intolerances, and special diet requests. The generations getting older are more demanding and we may need to be more flexible to accommodate their needs. I also believe that cooking is a dying art and there are less and less people who are really able to cook from scratch, so staffing can be difficult.
What is your advice to those just getting started in the food service industry?
Stick with it if you like it. Foodservice will only continue to grow and become a bigger need as our population ages. My grandma once told me that being able to cook was a talent that not many have and that I was lucky to be able to share this talent with so many people.