CDM, CFPP of the Month - September 2019 


Name: Amarilys Saluk, CDM, CFPP

Job Title: Director of Dietary Services

Employer: New London Rehab and Sub Acute Nursing

Job Location: Waterford, CT
Years at Current Facility: 5 years

Years in Current Position: 5 years

CDM Since: 2000 

Why did you decide to become a CDM, CFPP?

I decided to become a CDM for continued professional growth. I am always looking for ways to better myself in both my personal and professional life. Obtaining my CDM just presented as a natural next step in my professional life. I am one of those fortunate people who have been able to make my passion my career.

What are your main responsibilities in your current position?

My responsibilities include developing menus in conjunction with the RD, developing work schedules, preparing work assignments, hiring and training new hires. Identify nutrition issues with residents and solve them with the RD. Quality Assurance, environmental rounds, implement diet plans according to physicians orders. Responsible for complying with State, Local and Health District codes. Supervise all employees to ensure work compliance. Protect food in all phases of preparation, holding, service, cooling and transportation. Develop and implement policies and procedures. Overall operation of the Dietary Department.

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

There is one thing I do have, and that is good time management and organizational skills. I actually have a set of goals for every day of the week which I write down on my desk calendar and make sure that I go down the list to accomplish each of them. I always have a back-up plan for when there are emergencies in the kitchen such as call outs and I have to fill in when there is no one else, then I make sure I prioritize. Bottom line is residents’ safety.

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

An innovative way I have made changes in my facility is to include all staff in the process. What I mean by that is that I have taken the opportunity to promote staff morale with various activities, such as basket raffles, prize-related games, and staff acknowledgments. It may not seem like the most innovative thing, but in fact it is. Because by  making things fun at work and rewarding staff, that positive energy flows to the residents and the care and treatment they receive. When the staff feels appreciated, they are more active in making sure point of service meals go smoother and that residents are getting what they ask for. And that they are comfortable to approach me about food-related concerns voiced by a resident or family member. So a positive approach brings positive results.

What was your first job in the foodservice industry?

My first job was working at McDonald’s after school. Then I started working at a Long Term Care facility in addition to McDonald’s, and within a year I work my way up form dietary aide to cook to being one of the youngest Food Service Directors in my organization at 18. I worked for that particular company for a total of 18 years.

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

My biggest mentor was Brian Kingley, he was a CDM and the past president of the Southern New England Chapter, and he was the one person I wanted to become - and I did. I wanted to become President of the SNEC and I did. I also wanted to obtain my Certification for ServSafe instructor and with his help and guidance I also obtained my ServSafe Instructor and Proctor Registration. He inspired me to be the best that I could be and I did.

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

My biggest challenges are staffing and budget. How I handle staffing is (as I mentioned in the previous answer) through staff morale, which is a huge factor in this industry. By acknowledging their hard work and by rewarding the staff for what they do, I have found that staffing turnover has decreased in the past few months. I handle the budget situation is by always getting input from the residents during our monthly food committee meetings, were I sit and listen to all of their complaints, concerns, and compliments. During that meeting we discuss the menus and options available. Those meeting are extremely helpful when it comes to managing my food budget and ensuring the residents are getting everything that they ask for. The outcome is that I have been able to make budget and please residents at the same time.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of the job is when the residents have no complaints about the food during Resident Council Meeting where they usually have complaints about every department. Which means that we are doing our job. It is extremely rewarding to know that we made them happy. At the end of the day FOOD is the only thing these lovely people have to look forward to.

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

I am open to communication from all resources. This includes listening to residents and what their needs are.  Listening to family members and what input they may have. I accept ides from all staff members.  And I continue to attend meetings with fellow CDM’s for creative ideas. I research trends, exploring the pros and cons. Then lastly I work with my main supporters in the facility on how to implement and tweak the ideas to be appropriate for our community. Coming up with a system on how to present the new idea to make it successful.

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

I envision that with the rapid pace of change in foodservice, technology will be a huge part of it. Due to that, there will be less well-educated and poorly trained workforce.  I also envision that where will be less growth in farming due to the economical struggles and environmental changes in the world. Fewer baby boomers dining out, and more penny-watching organizations, which will affect our budgets and therefore affect how we will provide good nutritious meals to our residents.

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

My advice to those getting into the foodservice industry is to remain open-minded.  We may have the best of intentions and think our idea is amazing, but every great creation has been through trial and error. Make connections not only with all of those in your facilities, but residents and families to each of the other departments, because surprisingly those are the people who can let you know objectively if things are working or need to be adjusted.  I’d also say don’t be complacent, you may implement a phenomenal program but as with all aspects of life the food industry is ever evolving. Connect with others in the industry who are also resources, and continue to get educated and grow.  Finally the most important thing is, don’t ever forget that it’s all about the residents and you have the ability to give them moments of happiness and health on a daily basis.