Why did you decide to become a CDM?
After graduating with a BS in Food and Nutrition, I moved to Florida and started out as a restaurant manager, mainly because I was living in a new place and that was the first job I could find. After a few years in the restaurant industry, I knew that I wanted to be a part of foodservice in a healthcare setting, as it seemed more rewarding to me. Finally in 2013, I got my foot in the door at Wishard Hospital, and was hired as the Associate Manager of the cafeteria. A year later we moved into a new hospital, Eskenazi Health. At Eskenazi Health I was promoted to Production Manager, overseeing all patient meals including, room service, tray line, Meals on Wheels, and bulk meals that are prepared for our cafeteria. Soon after the transition, my Director talked to me about becoming a CDM and how it would help with my transition into my new role. By attending state and local meetings, and listening to the speakers and networking with fellow managers from other hospitals, becoming a CDM has helped me to gain knowledge that has helped with my transition into my new role.
What are your main responsibilities in your current position?
My main responsibilities are to oversee production for our patient services and outpatient meals served in our cafeteria. This includes food prepared for the steam line in the cafeteria, room service, house trays, Meals on Wheels, and bulk meals for off-site locations. I also work closely with my supervisors and team lead staff in developing special menus for theme days and holidays. Other responsibilities include training, development, meal planning, employee relations, payroll, hiring, performance management, and performing sanitation audits.
How do you organize your time at work to make sure you accomplish all your responsibilities?
It isn’t always easy finding time to accomplish all of my responsibilities at work and there have been many times where I found myself having to play catch up at home. Currently, I am fortunate to have three Supervisors and three Team Leads that report directly to me that I am able to delegate some of my past responsibilities to.
What is an example of an innovative way you have made change at your facility and how did you implement it?
I worked with a grant funded dietitian from the Centers for Disease Control to implement the “Choose Health” meals in all locations. I have expanded that menu to all the Meals on Wheels clients, including adult day care facilities across Indianapolis.
What was your first job in the foodservice industry?
My first job in the foodservice industry was in college as a server in the catering department. I worked on campus as a server while I was working on earning my BS in Food and Nutrition. I learned many valuable things during my time as a server, like how to set up buffet lines, set tables properly, customer service and how to handle customer complaints in a way that ensures the continued high level of customer satisfaction. I enjoyed my time as a server, and during my senior year of college I was promoted to a Catering Team Lead.
Who has been your biggest mentor in foodservice and how have they helped shape your career?
Both the Director of Food and Nutrition and the General Manager of Culinary Services have been very supportive of my career at Eskenazi Health. They have both have pushed me, and brought out the best in me, by moving me around to different areas of food service in our department and keeping me involved in all the different aspects of food service in a healthcare setting.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your position and how do you handle them?
Staffing is always a challenge, and one that I am sure most foodservice professionals face these days. Our organization is focusing on developing better recruitment tools and onboarding processes, but at the departmental level I try to focus on making the best possible hiring decisions to ensure we are well positioned with the strongest possible team. It is also my job, and the job of my team, to ensure that we focus on the retention of these high performing employees.
What is your favorite part of your job?
The best part of my job is playing a role, however small it may be, in fulfilling the mission of Eskenazi Health. We contribute to the health and well-being of our patient population through providing award-winning food, and partnering with our outpatient nutrition team to provide nutrition education opportunities to the community.
How do you stay up to date with current innovations and trends?
I attend most of the CEU’s that are offered in my area as well as educational opportunities offered from our venders. I like to attend food shows and make time to read magazines such as Nutrition & Foodservice Edge, Food Management and FoodService Director. Also, our Director, Administrative Dietitian, and GM of Culinary Services, keep us up with current innovations and trends.
How do you envision the foodservice industry in the next few years?
Specifically in healthcare foodservice, I see education taking a bigger role in the industry. It will become more about educating the public in making better decisions. You can’t remove choice, but you can educate people to make better choices.
What is your advice to those just getting started in the foodservice industry?
Make yourself become more well-rounded by learning as much as you can about operations. Work every position, and learn how to manage other areas in your foodservice operation. In the hospital setting, as large as the one I am in, our HR department offers a Leadership Training series. This training is offered to leaders from all different areas of the hospital, and the training covers information including on how to handle situations with upset guests and how to increase guest satisfaction. Being new to foodservice in healthcare, I found these classes very helpful and relevant to the food and nutrition department. Try to attend as many meetings as you can outside of your department, so you will have the opportunity to network and make some valuable connections with other individuals in the foodservice industry that may have some good ideas or a different way of doing something that you are stuck on.