Why did you decide to become a CDM?
I have always enjoyed the art of food. I love to cook, and food is comfort. I have always enjoyed watching people enjoy a good meal. Food touches everyone’s life. A lot is based around food: family gatherings, nourishment heals the body, how the body uses nutrients and the relationship between diet, health, and disease. I enjoy making a difference in someone’s life.
What are your main responsibilities in your current position?
Managing and educating and training employees, scheduling, hiring, nutrition consulting, meal planning, inventory control, budgeting, and purchasing. To maintain food in a safe and sanitary manner at all times.
How do you organize your time at work to make sure you accomplish all your responsibilities?
I use time management, prioritizing, organization, delegation, problem solving. I make a to do list when I get up and drink my coffee of what I need to achieve at work each day.
What is an example of an innovative way you have made change at your facility and how did you implement it?
One thing I strive for as I work in a hospital setting is that I want good food and not to have people say it’s hospital food. I have introduced on our line daily choices: We have Comfort food, Salad Bar, and also a keto menu. Also, you can tell us what you would enjoy eating and we will prepare this for you. Anyone can come in and eat from the public if they wish to.
What was your first job in the foodservice industry?
I was a waitress and a cook at a truck stop.
Who has been your biggest mentor in foodservice and how have they helped shape your career?
I had a lady who was my customer and every day she encouraged me to become a CDM, CFPP. And she paid for my education and trained me to become a Dietary Manager and to always make a difference in someone’s life. She was an administrator and a Certified Dietary Manager and a member of ANFP and I worked for her 10 years. She has since passed away and I always told her I would always make her proud. She was an amazing woman and she is what gives me the strength and compassion to do what I do. Her name is Donna Gene Davis, I will always have the utmost respect for her and stand for everything she taught me. She is the reason I am who I am today. Because she believed in me.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your position and how do you handle them?
Food Safety, a lot of staff education to explain why we have to secure food safely in all phases. Training staff making sure all employees are ServSafe Certified. State regulations can be challenging at times. One may read more or less into the rules and regulations. Every Surveyor looks at the regulations from a different perspective.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Meeting new people and caring for people, making sure their needs are met through food. Also, my staff who are amazing; giving them the tools to pass survey and seeing how compassionate and devoted to the industry they are.
How do you stay up to date with current innovations and trends?
The hospital I work for is hardwired for excellence, and so they encourage us to get education to promote the best care for our clients. ANFP is a great source as well as our vendors. I also search for webinars; lots of reading and researching.
How do you envision the foodservice industry in the next few years and foodservice?
You will always have to be able to adapt to change as our culture will always change. I believe there will be a wider range of choices, I think you will see orders placed with phones sent straight to the kitchens. Online food deliveries to homes with everything prepared.
What is your advice to those just getting started in the foodservice industry?
Have a passion for what you do and enjoy what you do and it won’t feel like a job. Get to know your staff and what makes them who they are, thank them every day for all they do, let them know you appreciate all that they do and work alongside your staff and help them. Then you can build a team. Strive for excellence and talk with your clients; let them know you are here for them and their choices. Encourage and educate, and thank your clients for allowing you to care for them. Keep up to date with CMS and their guidelines. Lead by example; not every day will be a Betty Crocker day but learn from it and change what isn’t working and ask yourself what is working and ask your staff what is working and what is not and ask for their advice of what they think would work better. Make sure your staff have the tools they need to do their job. Stay positive and listen and guide you will always face challenges in any job you take on. You have to be able to take compliments and complaints as well. Enjoy and share the compliments and listen to the complaints and strive to make changes to eliminate the complaints. I hope you enjoy your journey as much as I do.