Why did you decide to become a CDM?
It was important for me to become a CDM due to my interest in keeping current in the field of Foodservice and Nutrition. Another deciding factor was my desire to have the opportunity to network with other Foodservice professionals not only in my region, but across the country.
What are your main responsibilities in your current position?
I am responsible for the administration of the Dining and Nutrition Services Department. I oversee all phases of food purchases, fiscal projection and budgeting, menu planning, production, staffing, training, and service to the Residents who reside here at our facility.
How do you organize your time at work to make sure you accomplish all your responsibilities?
Advance planning and the ability to predict what lies ahead on a daily basis is so vital for quality time management. I rely heavily on my day planner, and it also helps to work with so many incredible and trustworthy people in my department.
What is an example of an innovative way you have made change at your facility and how did you implement it?
1. Bradford County Manor was one of the first Dining and Nutrition Service Departments in the area to provide formed puree foods for our Residents who were ordered on a puree diet. We tested many recipes and procedures before we were comfortable with preparing a recipe book that we still utilize 20 plus years later.
2. In 2004, our facility made a full commitment to a Fine Dining Program. This involved renovations, relocating offices, ordering new equipment and supplies, and education of staff from just about every department. Our Fine Dining program is an experience that our Residents enjoy, and it definitely takes an entire facility to make it a success.
3. Recently we initiated installation of hand sanitizer dispensers on all of our food delivery carts, to help with infection control during the serving of the meals.
What was your first job in the foodservice industry?
During my high school senior year I worked after school as a food service helper in the Dietary Department at The Robert Packer Hospital (RPH) in Sayre, Pennsylvania.
Who has been your biggest mentor in foodservice and how have they helped shape your career?
In 1985 I was a kitchen supervisor (still at RPH), when my boss approached me and asked me if I was interested in becoming the Foodservice Director at the Bradford County Manor (RPH held the contract to provide Foodservice Management for BCM). I was 22 years old and I was so excited, I told him I appreciated the opportunity and I would never call in sick. Looking back, he truly took a risk on a fairly inexperienced young man to manage the foodservice for a 226 bed long-term care facility. I learned so much from him on how to work with and lead my employees while simultaneously handling a number of other things from budgets to equipment breakdowns. During his weekly visits and many phone calls he took the time to provide answers for the many questions that I asked. He demonstrated passion and genuine commitment to the Residents that we served and I credit most of my success to what I learned from him. I also kept my promise, 32 years later and I still have not called in sick!
What are the biggest challenges you face in your position and how do you handle them?
Managing supply: To help manage supply costs, we receive monthly food and supply bids from our vendors, we compare prices and award to the lowest bidder, as long as there is no sacrifice in quality. To help keep costs in check we are members of two GPOs.
Staff retention: Improving staff retention begins with the interviewing process. I am very selective when it comes to hiring for any position within the Dining and Nutrition Services Department. We have found that training new employees with only one specific preceptor instead of different employees has helped with retention and job satisfaction with both the new employee and the trainer. I continually communicate with the Dietary staff; the work is hard and one can sometimes feel unappreciated, I make every effort daily to assure that each staff member understands how important they are to the team. I also find that being available with a quick response to any questions or concerns is appreciated by the staff. It is my goal to be transparent, in other words I believe my management style is one that keeps everyone in the loop so that my staff knows what I know and we are all able to engage with one another on any topic.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I believe what I enjoy most of all are the people that I have met and worked with throughout the years, many of those who still keep in touch with me from all over the country.
How do you stay up to date with current innovations and trends?
1. I have an outstanding, well respected in the field, Nutrition consultant. During her visits she frequently provides us with the most current information on the latest foodservice innovations and trends. She tests me and I do appreciate the challenge.
2. The Nutrition and Foodservice Edge magazine is a reliable and dependable source.
How do you envision the foodservice industry in the next few years and foodservice?
Residents in Long Term Care facilities will have more choices in not only what they eat, but at what time they would like to eat.
What is your advice to those just getting started in the foodservice industry?
Foodservice Directors manage all aspects of the business. Formal education in foodservice and business is extremely important, as well as learning through any other avenues that may be offered. To make it work one has to demonstrate dedication and commitment. Make sure you are always learning, do not get “stale”! Days are long, but if you do the job well and always keep the Resident at the center, the Resident meal satisfaction and appreciation makes it all worth it.